LEWISTON — The school board voted 7-0 Monday to approve first reading of a policy banning the use of cell phones and other personal devices by elementary and middle school students during the school day.
A second vote will be required for the policy to be implemented.
The proposed policy would require cell phones and other devices belonging to students in kindergarten through eighth grade to be turned off and stored during the school day and school activities. Secondary students would be allowed to use cellphones and other devices only during breaks between lessons and during lunch.
Under the proposed policy, an exception could be made for devices deemed “essential to the student’s health, safety, or educational purposes, as determined by the administration.”
Students would also be prohibited from using cameras in locker rooms, bathrooms, and “other places where privacy is generally expected.” In all other schools, students will need to obtain permission to photograph or record another person.
The camera use policy does not explicitly state who must give permission for photos, but political subcommittee chair and Ward 4 representative Tanya Whitlow said permission cannot be given. be granted only by school staff, not by the students themselves.
Asked if high school students would be allowed to take pictures of friends during lunch or school holidays, Whitlow said she wasn’t sure and acknowledged the subcommittee had no not considered such a situation when drafting the policy.
One of the main goals of the camera use policy is to reduce bullying, according to several committee members.
Student phones may be searched if there is a reasonable suspicion of a violation of school committee or other school rules, which include, but are not limited to, harassment, cheating and violations of the student code of conduct, in accordance with the proposed policy.
Violations of the policy could result in confiscation of the device, up to suspension, expulsion and referral to law enforcement.
Other devices prohibited during the school day include, but are not limited to, iPods, MP3 players, handheld computers, electronic games, laser pointers, headphones, and other similar devices.
The policy does not apply to teachers and other staff.
School committee members discussed suspending the rules to forego a second reading and fully endorse the proposed policy on Monday, expressing a desire to have the new policy in place by the first day of school on September 1. However, the motion was withdrawn following strong opposition from several members.
Committee members generally agreed to draft and send the revised policy to parents and ask them to sign it.
The second and final vote on the cell phone, technology and camera policy will take place at the next meeting on August 29 at 5:30 p.m. at a location to be determined.
STAFF AND TRANSPORT
The transportation situation looks much more positive for this school year, according to Superintendent Jake Langlais. In July, Hudson Bus Lines had 19 bus driver positions open. The company’s latest update says there are now three, he said.
Langlais said he still expects transportation disruptions in the next school year.
The committee also approved 81 hires in vacant positions across the district and another 20 people are in the process of being hired, Langlais said.
He said there are now 53 vacancies for educators, which does not include education technicians, special education or English language learning staff. Thirty-four education technician positions remain vacant.
Executive Director of Operations Bill Grant told the committee that 127 people visited the district’s job fair Aug. 5 and 74 ultimately applied for jobs.
In other news, Whitney Rolf has been promoted to vice principal at Robert V. Connors Elementary School and Rebecca Shouvieller will join Lewiston High School as vice principal.
Rolf taught elementary schools in Lewiston for eight years, primarily as a kindergarten teacher at Elementary School Gov. James B. Longley then at Connors Elementary School, but more recently as an intervention teacher. She holds a master’s degree in elementary mathematics education.
Shouvieller comes to Lewiston from Falmouth High School where she taught social studies for a year. She holds a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership from Harvard University.
The committee approved the reallocation of $250,000 of the budget for security camera updates at Montello, Farwell and McMahon elementary schools.
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