School board policies may be changed

Friday, January 28, 2011

Citizens who want to address the school board may soon have to give two more days' notice, according to policy committee discussion Monday night.

Administrative assistant Rhonda Poole suggested the change so all requests could be included in the "Board Book" mailed out to board members before each monthly meeting.

Now, if a citizen applies to speak just before the current five-day limit, it is too late to include their request in the packet.

"It tidies things up," Board Chairman Mike Keny said. "It makes meetings run smoother, and there are no surprises when you get here."

Policy Committee Chairwoman Ann Tears emphasized "It's not to stop anybody coming."

The change will now be recommended to board members at their Feb. 17 meeting.

A policy on cell phones was also discussed with the assistance of Forrest principal Dr. Larry Miller, but no changes were made.

"I don't want to take them (phones) away altogether," Miller said. He reported that it was difficult to get working parents to come to school for a conference if their child had been caught with a cell phone. Miller also said that when a phone was returned to a parent, they generally gave it right back to the child.

"It's the same kids over and over again," Miller said, noting that 90 to 95 percent of his students never get in trouble, but the worst ones had already had their phones taken up three or four times since the Christmas break.

"The policy's not a cure-all," said Tears.

Miller reported that some county school systems are charging a $25 fine for cell phone violations, but said he didn't want to get in to doing that.

Also Monday, Harvey Jones' teacher recruitment committee met after the policy committee's session.

To try and bring new teachers to Marshall County schools director Roy Dukes plans to attend hiring fairs in Nashville on Feb. 8 and in Alabama on Feb. 23.

"Why don't we send the principals with him?" asked Tears.

Miller agreed: "I'm always looking for better teachers - good teachers."

Tears supported the plan.

We've got to do something different to get different results," she said. Committee members also noted the difficulty of attracting teachers to Marshall County.

"It's all in the fact they will go where the money is and where they feel more comfortable," Dukes said.

Meanwhile, the policy committee is recommending changes as proposed by federal projects director Linda Williams-Lee.

The policies are on parental involvement.

Williams-Lee explained changes are needed to bring the system's rules into compliance. The Tennessee School Boards Association sent her a copy of a policy that is "being used throughout the state."

Chairman Mike Keny said the new policy could get its first reading at the February meeting, but couldn't be approved until the March meeting, when the board will have a full complement of nine members.