Students can take cell phones to school, substitutes to be hired by staffing company

Published 6:30 pm Friday, August 9, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Board of Education made significant changes for this school year at its regular meeting held at the Central Office in Hayneville, Thursday night.

Changes include allowing students to bring cell phones to school and contracting with Kelly Services Inc. to hire substitute teachers.

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The board also voted to extend School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd’s contract for an additional year. And Boyd announced both in -school suspensions for minor offenses and a return to the block schedule for the high school students.

Cell Phones In School

At Boyd’s request, the board voted to suspend its current cell phone policy to allow students to bring cell phones to school effective at the start of the school year, Monday, Aug. 19.”What we are trying to do is reduce the number of short-term suspensions in our schools,” Boyd said.

He said one of the top three reasons for suspensions is the “use or possession of cell phones at school.”

He told the board that it is better “to allow cell phones in our schools, but not allow the students to use the cell phone during the instructional day.”

He said students can bring the cell phone to school, but when the bell rings at 8 a.m. they cannot be in use. He said students could use the phones when the bell rings at the end of the school day.

Boyd announced the end of Project Success as it previously existed. The two teachers there will be sent, one to Central High School, and one to Calhoun High School.

Instead of sending students to Project Success, he said the school system would use in-school suspension for minor offenses such as truancy (skipping class).

Boyd said a student who is truant or skipping class doesn’t want to be in school and that suspending them is what they really want.
“So, having in-school suspension will allow our students to still be in school and still learn the material inside the school,” he said.

He said a child that would have been sent to Project Success would now be sent to the high school for which he or she is zoned for in-school suspension.However, he said, if in-school suspension doesn’t work, a student will go to the Project Success location.
Substitute Teachers

At Boyd’s recommendation, the board approved action items including a contract with Kelly Services Inc., which he said serves school systems across the state to provide substitute staffing for the school district.

Boyd said the company will provide training for school substitute teachers, and those who sign up with the district will be transferred to Kelly Services Inc. for training.

He said there would be an automatic call-in system so that a teacher who will be out can call-in, and Kelley Services Inc. will automatically staff the school with a substitute.Boyd said if either Kelly Services Inc. or the school district wants to opt out of the contract, they need only give 30 days notice.

He said a benefit to the substitute teachers is that Kelly Services can use them to work anywhere they provide staffing. “Which means it would open the door for jobs beyond just being a substitute,” Boyd said.

He said the cost of the staffing service would be a 40 percent add on to the fee the school system normally pays for substitute teachers.

Boyd said an incentive for the school system is insurance must be provided for the substitute teachers, which would be “expensive.” He said in this case, Kelly Services Inc. would be the employer.
He also said Kelly Services Inc. would pay unemployment costs for substitutes.

It was pointed out that a teacher could still request a particular substitute. And in answer to questions about lawsuits, Boyd said, “We have an immunity, which means that if we are doing what we are supposed to do, we really can’t be sued.”

Boyd announced a return to the block school schedule saying for high school students, which means a student could earn four units in the fall and four units in the spring.”We went to the modified block for two years. We realized the original block was a better system,” he said.


Boyd said federal law supercedes state law with regard to the new gun law. He said he sent a memo out “to post signs at every school stating that no guns are allowed on campus.”

He said a student who bring a gun to school will be indefinitely suspended for a full year.”

He said teachers also cannot bring guns to school.

Other matters

The board voted to readmit an indefinitely suspended student to Calhoun High School. It was announced that the paid breakfast price went from $1.05 to $1.10 and lunch from $1.60 to $1.65. And
after receiving an exceptional evaluation, the board voted to extend Dr. Boyd’s Contract for one year to a four-year term.