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Bayfield schools may ban cell phone use in classrooms
8/14/2009 By: Melanie B. Mazur
Members of the Bayfield School Board are trying to balance the needs of students to talk with families and having uninterrupted time in the classroom for teachers to teach.
They discussed a policy at their July 30 meeting that would ban all cell phone use in schools.
Dean Hill, the new superintendent of the district, said all cell phone use was banned at the schools where he worked. Students could use the cells before and after school. If a student used a cell phone during school hours, it was confiscated and kept in a safe in the school office until the end of the day.
Bayfield school board trustees said they like the concept, but need to vote on it at their next meeting.
Trustee Scott Kujath said he wanted principals to know before the start of the school year that this is the way the board is heading, so they could advise students next Tuesday when school starts.
Cell phones can be used to send test answers, or even pictures of the test, Hill said. He also said “sexting,” or sending sexually provocative pictures via cell phones, are issues teachers have to face.
Board president Barb Wickman said she has heard some resistance to a cell phone ban from parents who want to reach their children during the day.
“We need to ensure uninterrupted time in the classroom,” Hill said.
The board also heard some more depressing news regarding state funding for schools. The Colorado Department of Education had ordered districts to set aside state funds this school year because of less state funding. Now they’ve upped that mandate, requiring Bayfield to save $350,000 in a reserve, not the $180,000 board members had expected. Growing class sizes are also a concern. There will be seven sections of kindergarten this year, and a burgeoning fourth-grade class might require another teacher to be hired so there won’t be 26 to 27 kids in each classroom.
Because personnel is the highest expense in the district, some other positions the district is advertising might not filled, said Amy Lyons, the district finance director. The district also might hold off on purchasing a new bus this year because Larry Black, the transportation director, said the bus fleet is in fairly good shape, Lyons said.
The board might discuss this year’s budget, and the cell phone policy, at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25.