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Columbia Board of Education details possible cellphone policy during first public ‘listening session’


Members of the Columbia Board of Education detailed a possible student cellphone policy plan and discussed the implementation of a weapons-detection system during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday evening. 

About a dozen people showed up for Columbia Public School’s first listening session at Battle High School. The sessions are designed to allow community members to provide thoughts and concerns to board members. 

"I think it went great. Lots of people, lots of different things to talk about,” Board of Education Vice President John Lyman told ABC 17 News. “We ran about an hour and 15 minutes longer than we scheduled, but it’s not surprising when you're talking about school stuff. People want to come people want to talk to us about what’s going on."

The turnout included parents, teachers and a middle-school student. It was a roundtable discussion where people signed in with the topic they wanted to address. The Board went down the line and had a group discussion about each topic. 

One topic included a possible cellphone policy that was discussed at a Board meeting earlier this month

The policy would not allow cellphones in “instructional spaces.” The first time a student is caught using a phone, a warning will be issued. The second time a student is caught using a phone, it will be taken away and held until the end of the day. After a third instance, the phone will be taken, and a parent will be called to pick up the phone. If a fourth citation occurs, the student will be banned from using a phone. 

Boardmembers said other districts with a similar policy told them that the first couple of months of enforcing the policy were brutal, but it paid off in the long run.  

Some CPS schools have policies in place already, and it is up to each school to define details, including what it considers an "instructional space."

Another one of the main topics of discussion was safety, specifically the new weapons-detection system. In April, a CPS spokesperson told ABC 17 News that the district is purchasing 15 units in total, which will be located at the district's three high schools.

Some parents were concerned about the drop-off process, saying they were worried about their child getting to class on time because of how inefficient the lines were during the test in December. Other concerns were about having to adjust schedules to leave earlier and children bringing in instruments. 

During the meeting, the Board also said it received a lot of feedback on high school boundary changes and some feedback for elementary school changes, but did not hear much about possible attendance changes to middle schools. 

There are currently no other sessions scheduled, but Lyman said the Board will discuss how this meeting went and come up with a plan on when to hold them in the future and if any changes need to be made.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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