Some new policies at La Salle-Peru Township High School next year will allow students more access to the cellular phones and push student athletes to perform better in classes.
The L-P School Board on Wednesday night approved student handbook and athletic/activity codes of ethics updates for the coming school year.
Regarding the student handbook, students will now be able to use electronic devices, such as smartphones, up until first period and during lunch periods. Previously these devices were not allowed to be used on campus.
Board member Rose Marie Lynch said this change was caused, in part, by accepting the reality of modern communication, but it also allows the school to move closer to potential policies that would allow students to bring their own devices to school for class use, which could save the district money, assuming certain restrictions could be put in place.
Disciplinary measures related to electronic devices also changed. Previously there was only one tier of discipline requiring at least a two-hour Saturday detention for offenses. The new policy allows for a two-tier system to allow leniency in the case of minor infractions.
There also were some changes to the academic eligibility requirements.
D’Wayne Bates, director of athletics and activities, said he wanted to increase the minimum grade point average for student athletes to 2.0 from the current standard of 1.5. Instead, the board approved a change in policy that maintains the 1.5 minimum, but requires any student athlete with a GPA in the 1.5-1.99 range to attend academic support sessions. Students whose GPAs drop below 1.5 will now be able to remain on a team in a practice capacity, but will not be able to participate in any competitions.
“We want to keep them in the program and hopefully their participation will help them get back to high academic (performance),” Bates said.
Student athletes will also see a change in disciplinary policy.
Lynch explained there will be a new first step of discipline that calls for parental involvement and also requires the student to perform community service and write a letter of apology. Previously any serious infraction of the code mandated that a student athlete miss 50 percent of a season.
Lynch and Bates said the change allows student athletes with a first-time offense an opportunity to return to their program sooner, but also pushes them to improve their behavior.
“I really, really like that change. It makes the kids accountable,” said board member Cathy Renk.
The school board also approved a roughly $67,000 asbestos abatement project, a cost higher than expected.
“There was a large discrepancy between what we thought it was going to be versus what it is going to be,” superintendent Steve Wrobleski said.
He explained that the school’s architects reviewed their original estimate of about $48,000 and found they had underestimated the wages in La Salle County and the amount of preparation time necessary for the project.
Considering there is a limited time frame this summer to complete the project, which is part of a larger overhaul of some of the school’s old restrooms, board member Tony Sparks said it was disappointing news but the school needed to move forward with the project.
The board agreed to apply for a state maintenance grant that could potentially cover half the cost of the project.
The annual pizza and milk bids also were approved Wednesday night.
The board approved awarding Pizza Hut the pizza vendor contract at a cost of $7 per pizza and North Central Illinois Milk Distributors the milk contract with an escalator bid with a projected cost of $25,497.10 for the year.
But board member Dr. Peter Meier raised a concern that could change the school’s milk policy in the future.
“Chocolate milk isn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world,” he said.
He questioned if the district should consider not offering chocolate milk in the coming school years, particularly considering the increasing childhood obesity rate.
“I don’t think we’re doing them a favor by providing that,” he said.
By cutting out the sugar-enhanced milk, the board could potentially tighten the district’s budgetary belt.
Based on the next year’s projections, roughly $20,000 of the total milk costs will be spent on chocolate milk. That’s a little more than 86,000 ½ pint cartons of chocolate milk.
In other action that could improve Cavalier waistlines, the board approved establishing a Cavalier 5K Run/Walk to coincide with homecoming 2013. The fun run, which will end on the 50-yard line in Howard Fellows Stadium, is sponsored by the school’s Link Crew.
Cavaliers and Huskies
Additionally, the board approved a school partnership with Northern Illinois University.
“What I’m excited about is the mutual benefit for both of our school systems,” Wrobleski said.
Although he plans to roll out the full details of the partnership in an upcoming press conference, Wrobleski said it will allow more NIU student teachers to work at L-P, while L-P will receive help with technology development and other academic initiatives from the university.
In other business, the school board:
* placed on display for the next month an amended budget. This was a required step after abating $900,000 in working cash funds to the district’s operations and maintenance fund last month to replenish money spent on the athletic complex.
* recognized Illinois Personal Finance Challenge team members Mat Halm, Drew Barto, Trenton Lipka and Eric Yao and faculty advisors Scott Lauer, Tiara Bedenko-Hill, Keith Buchen, Jeremiah Farrell and Kent Graff; and state journalism competitions medalists, Courtney Roark, Katelyn Valerin and Jane Leonatti and faculty advisor Georgia Stohr.
Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933, or firstname.lastname@example.org.