Highland School Board August Meeting

Beginning with the 2023-24 school year, Highland High School and middle school students will have less opportunity to access their personal electronic devices.

During their August regular meeting, the Highland School Board amended their policy on electronic device usage for students. The Board has been in the process of updating their policies and procedures over the last year, and this particular policy approval was tabled at their July meeting after discussion. Previously, the policy had allowed students the ability to use their devices, which included cell phones, earphones, and wearables, before and after the instructional day, in the cafeteria during the students’ lunch period, and in the hallways between classes. The Board was concerned with the amount of usage during the day by students, including during classes, as well as enforcement of the policy.

The amended policy removes usage in the hallways between classes, leaving only before and after the school day starts, and in the cafeteria. The devices are not to be taken into a classroom for any reason. Students’ persons and bags will not be searched for devices, but if a device is heard, or exposed during instructional times, the policy has been broken.

Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz clarified the Board sought these changes to lessen distractions and maximize learning time throughout the day, as well as a safety consideration during potential lockdown scenarios, to keep devices from making noise. It was noted that parents could still contact their children at any time by calling the school office, as well as the fact that the school system had their own electronic devices for students to use for any necessary learning activities.

Consequences for breaking the policy are – first offense, the teacher will take the device, and the student can pick it up when the school day ends at 3:15 – for a repeat offense, a parent or guardian will need to retrieve the device from the office after school that day, or after school the following day, and the school administration may issue further penalties at their discretion to dissuade against further infractions – third offenses will include the above consequences, plus a referral to the school principal.

Elementary students are not allowed personal electronic devices at any time during the school day.

Once this policy was passed, the Board approved the 23-24 Student Code of Conduct.

In other actions, the Board heard updates from both school principals, and the Superintendent. School staff returns on the 21st of August, and praise was given to the Youth Employment Students who had worked on cleaning and preparing the school for the upcoming year. The start of the athletic season with upcoming volleyball games was also mentioned, and Principal Tim Good noted that the Pioneer District has increased admission prices to $7.00 – the student rate is $3.00. They are also implementing a procedure this year called a punch-pass – 10 admissions are available with purchase of a pass-card for $50.00, decreasing the price slightly.

It was also noted the school system still has vacancies for an elementary school teacher, secondary mathematics teacher, and a special education assistant.

Mr. Good and Cafeteria Manager Lisa Jamison informed the Board of a new opportunity for students to get more nourishment throughout the day known as the “Second Chance Breakfast”, a ten minute break between first and second blocks of education, where the students can go to the gymnasium and purchase food items brought to the gym by the cafeteria staff.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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