Archive for Thursday, April 15, 2010

School board approves smoke-free policy

April 15, 2010

What started with a few students has become a districtwide policy.

The Basehor-Linwood School Board Monday night approved, 6-1 with member Wynne Coleman opposed, a plan to make the district tobacco free.

Three Basehor-Linwood High School students in Bobcats Against Destructive Decisions (BADD) brought the idea to the school board at its December 2009 meeting, citing numerous reasons why students, teachers and the rest of the Basehor-Linwood community would benefit from such a policy.

“The majority of smokers begin smoking before (high school) graduation,” sophomore Ethan Duffey said at the December meeting. “Also, many students don’t realize the addictive nature of tobacco.”

Banning tobacco use at all times on all school grounds would significantly change students’ perceptions on smoking and would reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, Duffey said.

The policy will begin to be enforced July 1 and will ban all tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, on school grounds and at all school-related functions such as dances and athletic events.

Coleman said she understood the motivation behind the policy was to protect people from second-hand smoke, so she didn’t see why smokeless tobacco had to be prohibited, as well.

“What does chewing tobacco have to do with (second-hand smoke)?” she asked. “And what role does that give someone to say, ‘Would you please take that out of your mouth?’”

High school principal Sherry Reeves said chewing tobacco was included because it aligned directly with the students’ reasons for requesting a no-tobacco policy.

“The students’ motivation was healthy choices, so that does include smokeless tobacco,” Reeves said.

The district will begin posting signs to notify the community of its new policy, and those seen smoking at or around school grounds after July 1 will be asked to remove the chewing tobacco or put out the cigarette.

Though Superintendent David Howard said getting the word out might be tough, he believed it was a sound policy that might ensure state health and wellness grants for USD 458 in the future.

“I think it’s going to be difficult for us in the beginning to enforce, especially with chewing tobacco,” Howard said. “But this isn’t uncommon. There aren’t many schools that don’t have smoking policies. I don’t foresee it as being a huge deal.”

Also on Monday night, the board:

• Heard a Project Lead the Way presentation by Reeves.

• Heard a strategic planning presentation from several community members chosen to be on the strategic planning committee. The committee is working on a final document to bring to the board for future district planning.

• Heard a Parents as Teachers presentation from Jacki Himpel, who told the board about the hearing screenings the organization had been successfully conducting at Basehor daycares, as well as its plans for playgroups.

• Saw a presentation from Linwood Elementary Principal Cindy Heibert about the school’s use of Promethean products introduced this school year.

• Heard an online enrollment update from Assistant Superintendent Mike Boyd, who said the online enrollment process was nearly ready. Parents will be able to download all enrollment forms except for the fee sheet from the district’s Web site for the 2010-2011 school year. The district will have each family’s forms ready when they arrive for enrollment to make the process run smoother and faster.

• Heard a construction report from Chris Claflin. Work continues to progress on the new middle school, and the projected May moving date is still on target, Claflin said.

• Approved, 7-0, Board of Education Policy JBC concerning out of district attendance. The policy was amended to accommodate extraordinary circumstances to allow certain children to attend Basehor-Linwood schools while living outside the district.

• Approved, 7-0, new insurance policies for student accidents. The policies can be taken out by parents for as little as $22 a year and will save the district approximately $13,000 a year in insurance expenses.

• Approved, 7-0, a contract with Daktronics in the amount of $9,922 for new baseball and softball scoreboards.

• Approved, 7-0, a contract with Atlas in the amount of $1,340,222 for high school track and football field renovations.

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