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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 4, 2009

Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board makes the call

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Cell-phone service came to the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District last month, so the school board adopted a policy this Monday that governs cell-phone use and text messaging.

“We finally adopted it,” Superintendent Steve Schrade said with a laugh this week.

The placement of cellular equipment at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Berne, turning the bell tower into a Verizon cell tower, went rather smoothly, since it doesn’t affect the view that Hilltown residents cherish. The cellular bell tower, which is next door to BKW, now grants cell-phone service to students and staff.

The district’s new policy says that students’ cell phones must be out of sight and turned off from 8 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., but that they may be used in the main office in the case of an emergency, as well as in other cases where the student asks permission.

“Cell phones are never to be used in an area in which an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” the policy goes on. Some of these excluded areas are restrooms, locker-rooms, showers, and the nurse’s office.

Cell phones that are on or in sight during an exam may be confiscated by the proctor, and the student may be considered cheating. Also, the district is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged student cell phones.

Penalties for misuse of cell phones are further detailed in the student code of conduct.

Other business

In other business, the school board:

— Again delayed a lease agreement on the Westerlo School for the coming school year, and authorized the Bauer Appraisal Group Inc. to appraise the property. The building was last appraised in October of 2004, and the building was found to be worth $185,000.

Because of declining enrollment, the district no longer uses the school, and leases it to the Helderberg Christian School while it decides whether or not to sell the property.

“They wanted an updated appraisal so that, if and when they make the decision to sell it, they’ll have an up-to-date basis for negotiations,” Superintendent Steve Schrade said this week;

— Scheduled the district’s re-organizational meeting for July 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Annual appointments and discussions of those appointments will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m.; the district’s goal-review and goal-setting processes will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, and from 1 to 3 p.m., with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m.;

— Was presented by Assistant Superintendent Kim LaBelle with a summary of the School Report Card, based on required testing conducted during the 2007-08 school year. The report card includes some data errors, Schrade said, and will be corrected, although the data has already been sent to the State Education Department;

— Discussed physical-education teacher Kelly Smith’s creating a series of 10-minute, daily physical-education units that can be used by other teachers under Smith’s indirect supervision. These activities, Schrade said, will “help the elementary school students to meet physical-education requirements.”

The units, Schrade said, will probably include “stretching, exercising, possibly 10-minute lessons some days on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and things like that”;

— Discussed changing the superintendent’s evaluation instrument.

“What that refers to is the process and the format used to evaluate the superintendent,” Schrade said. “The superintendent is evaluated every year, but the method by which they are evaluated isn’t necessarily discussed every year. So, they are looking for a better method”; and

— Heard that the district’s audit committee will meet next week, and an internal audit report will be presented to the board at its June 15 school board meeting.

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