Berryville board approves student handbook changes

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

By Billy Stidham

The Berryville School Board voted Monday to approve changes to the district’s student handbook, including new rules for cell phones, nicotine use and student drug testing.

“Some rule changes are mandated by the state and some are at the principal’s discretion,” board president Chad Hipps said.

A change to the district’s cell-phone policy will disallow the use of cell phones except for before school starts, after school ends and during lunch unless a teacher permits them.

Later the board addressed the school district’s drug testing policy in which an app is used to randomly select eligible students (including student-athletes and students that drive on campus) for drug testing.

“We have had a little bit of a change with that,” board member Chad Wilson said. “The thought was we could take 150 kids over to be tested, but now we’re doing it more frequently but with groups of eight or 10 students. It’s much less disruptive this way.”

The board was informed that the drug tests do not check for nicotine. However the district has tightened its policy on nicotine use. After a third offense involving nicotine use, a police officer will issue that student or their parents a citation.

The board also approved a change to the district’s ASBA policy manual.

This is about private school and home school students and how many courses they can take at our school during a semester,” Hipps said. “My recommendation is a limit of three courses per semester; any more than that you’re a full time student.”

The board also heard from personnel policy committee representative Kelly Swofford in regards to the district’s sick leave pool.

“We were required to split our personnel policy into classified and certified this past year, and part of that was beginning our review of the certified policies concerning sick bank,” Swofford said. “Through that process the sick bank committee chose to take over the sick bank requests. Then what we were able to do was redo our form to make it more manageable and easier for folks to understand if they wanted to join sick bank.

“We started looking at the policy and making it clear… There’s always been some confusion over what is termed as catastrophic,” Swofford said.

He explained that he believed the committee would be able to determine what qualifies as catastrophic on a case-by-case basis by reviewing doctors’ notes.

The committee also approved the 2018-2019 nurses’ report.

“We’re looking at almost 9,000 visits just for the elementary,” Hipps said.

The board also approved a travel request for an FCCLA leadership conference in Anaheim, Calif. Two students and a teacher will attend, along with the students’ parents.

The board approved a $1,500 stipend to Christy Skelton’s current contract for maintaining the greenhouse.

The board voted to approve the following hires: Yolanda Cash for K-2 special ed community-based instruction, Chris Elmer for high school math and Mattie McClenny for high school counselor; Anthony Bolton and Kaylee Parton as special ed paraprofessionals; and Amanda Ransom, Erica Pepple, Jessica Wilson and Linda Johnson for the cafeteria.

The board voted to approve the following resignations: Beth Ann Broeker and Shirley Drezinski from the cafeteria; Savannah Cole as middle school paraprofessional.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 15 in the Intermediate Cafetorium.

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