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Chinook School Board Addresses Cell Phone Use and Bus Contract

The Chinook School Board went over a variety of topics at their most recent meeting, the following is a summary of what transpired. The meeting was called to order by Chairman Billmayer visitors were welcomed, Matt Molyneaux, Leslee Weber, Nick Turner, Jill Paulsen, Jacob Waldner, Paula Molyneaux, Daniel MacLeod, and Walter Waldner. Board members present included Frank Billmayer, Chad Beck, Kevin Elias, Teddy Crowley, Shane Strobe, and Scott DePriest. Russell Alisch was absent.

The Board next addressed an amendment to the school handbook, “Mr. Molyneaux talked about cell phone problems at the high school. He is recommended a language change for cell phone use in the handbook. Majority of students don’t use them during instruction. He wants a straightforward, no grey areas rule. Mr. Hofman noted some inappropriate cell phone use issues before Christmas. ‘Students are not allowed to use cellphones in school during classroom time. Cellphones may only be used during passing time, during the lunch period, and after the final bell of the day. During the school day, if students need to use their cellphones in an emergency, they may request permission. Cellphones that are ringing or making disruptive noises or are visible in the classroom during instruction, will be confiscated by the teacher and turned in to the office for the remainder of the day. All phones taken and turned into the office, will be turned off first by the student and will require physical pickup by a parent/guardian at the end of the school day. Cellphones may only be used in the classroom for an instructional activity that has been pre-approved by the administration.’ Motion to amend the language of cellphone use in the handbook recommended by Mr. Molyneaux was made by Trustee DePriest and seconded by Trustee Stroebe.

Chairman Billmayer asked for public comment. Mr. Turner stated that Middle school teachers came together and said no phones in the classroom. The middle school kids know the expectations. Mrs. Paulsen talked about the addiction of these kids to their phone and technology. When they decided to take the phones during class, kids were more free. Mr. Molyneaux wants to keep the rule uniform all across the board. Mr. Hofman would like to change one thing to the language. He wants to put “may” instead of “will.” The new sentence should read as followed “All phones taken and turned in to the office, will be turned off first by the student and may require physical pickup by a parent/guardian at the end of the school day.”

Chairman Billmayer asked for a discussion. Chairman Billmayer would like to add the changes to the language of cell phone use. He asked the board to amend the motion. Amend the motion to add the changes to the given sentence “may require physical pickup by a parent/guardian.” Trustee DePriest. Seconded: Trustee Stroebe. Chairman Billmayer asked for public comments. None at this time.

Chairman Billmayer asked for a board discussion. Board discussion ensued. Trustee Crowley asked some questions about how the kids checked in their phones when they got to class. Mr. Hofman answered that it is up to the teachers. Chairman Billmayer talked about concerns when the subject of cell phone use in classroom was first brought to the board. They were all hesitant but became supportive when teachers supported it. Fairness was the main concern that Chairman Billmayer had. He didn’t want to short anyone a good education just because they didn’t have the newest iPhone to do their work on. Mr. Molyneaux stated that students don’t need their cell phones because we are over 1 to 1 with chrome books. Students can do everything on their chrome books. Mrs. Paulsen expressed concerns with overnight stays/Field trips and kids having their cell phones during the night. Trustee DePriest stated that we need to continue to educate kids and parents about cell phone use. Motion carried unanimously.

The Board also considered the Bus Contract. Mr. Hofman goes over the analysis of having a contractor and/or taking over our own bus routes and building our own bus barn. Questions and discussions from the board ensued. Trustee DePriest stated that Mr. Hofman’s numbers/estimations are very conservative. There are savings to be had. Trustee Elias expressed his concerns. After he did his math, he thinks there is only going to be a $23,000 savings. Mr. Hofman stated that if we take over the bus routes, we are able to not run certain routes if the child is not present in school. There is savings there. If we decide now, we can get construction started for the bus barn in August. Trustee Stroebe stated that buses can sit outside till the bus barn is complete. Long term, Mr. Hofman believes that we are moving forward to the best interest of the taxpayers. Mr. Hofman told the board that even though we can save money, he does not want this project on his plate. Mr. Hofman mentioned that we could even consider re-negotiating with Mr. Elliot. Motion deny contract offer, run our own buses and build our own bus barn: Trustee DePriest. Seconded: Trustee Stroebe. Chairman Billmayer asked for public comment. Some public comments ensued. Mr. Molyneaux stated that we might need to find a storage down at the football field because we have things stored at Mr. Elliot’s bus barn.

Chairman Billmayer asked for a discussion. The board asked Mr. Hofman what he is going to do about drivers. Mr. Hofman answered that he will talk to the existing staff. Chairman Billmayer stated that this is good work from Mr. Hofman and the committee, there is a lot of money on the table. We need to do justice for the taxpayers to look at this option. Trustee Crowley would like Mr. Hofman to ask schools about what they do for their route busses, he would just like a little more information. Mr. Hofman answered that he can do that. Mr. Hofman stated that we can pay for a bulk of this right way and talked about what levy numbers would be for the upcoming year. Trustee DePriest supports this as a way to conserve money. The motion passed 4-2. Trustee Crowley and Elias opposed.