Columbia School Board to vote on students' use of personal electronics

Saturday, April 6, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:21 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 6, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board will vote Monday on seven proposed changes in district policies. The changes, brought forward by the Missouri School Boards' Association, will include an update to the “Student Use of Personal Electronic Devices for Instructional Purposes” policy.

According to board meeting materials, the change in policy will open up the opportunity for students to use personal electronics for educational reasons. The proposed change in policy would coincide with the district’s focus on online academic opportunities, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. Students could use their personal electronics to take notes, do research online and access online textbooks, she said.

“It’s making sure that the policy reflects that those are the appropriate uses of technology within the classroom, and not some of the other things we think about students’ cell phones or students having tablets,” she said.

In the past, schools have limited students’ cell phone use and other electronics because of their potential for class disruption, Baumstark said.

“As we move more toward the bring-your-own-device concept, and as we’ve made Wi-Fi more available within our school buildings, we have to revise our policies to reflect that new practice,” she said.

Baumstark said policies across schools vary, but students are able to use personal electronics during free times like lunch periods. Schools have cell-phone zones and cell-phone-free zones for students as well, she said.

In addition to the vote on Missouri School Boards' Association policies, Superintendent Chris Belcher and Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley will give a report on the district’s financial projections and five-year model.

The board will also vote on:

  • A $150,000 contribution from the city of Columbia to build an elementary school gym for athletic events. The gym would be used by the Parks and Recreation department outside of school hours.
  • Salary schedules for the 2013-2014 school year. The recommendations include three more workdays for elementary principals’ secretaries and an average increase in pay of 1.77 percent for employees not on a salary schedule.
  • Changing the New Haven Elementary School boundaries to include the section of land that includes what was Regency Trailer Park, which is currently in Lee Elementary School boundaries.
  • An increase in annual superintendent pay by 1.5 percent, as well as adding three vacation days to the superintendent’s schedule and a contract renewal through June 30, 2016.

The school board meeting is open to the public and scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at 1818 W. Worley St.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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Derrick Fogle April 6, 2013 | 8:18 p.m.

Wait, this all sounds... reasonable. What am I missing?

(Report Comment)
Greg Butz April 7, 2013 | 6:32 a.m.

How reasonable does this sound. The school board is going to vote to allow students to use their electronic devices in class - probably as long as a teacher says they can. Imagine what some 13-18 year old boys would be doing in the back of the classroom, on their iPads, while pretending to take notes on the iPad. You have got to know that a pretty good number of them would be doing something other than taking the notes.

Just because you have technology available doesn't mean that you should use it.

Japan, whose students do MUCH better than U.S. students on standardized math tests, does not allow any electronic devices (not even the most basic type of calculator) in its math classes. Their feeling is that they have the technology, but it isn't appropriate for students learning math to rely on the electronics to do some/most of the work.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 7, 2013 | 6:40 a.m.

I'd be concerned about students cheating, both by taking pictures of tests to send to their friends, or getting answers to tests by unauthorized means (e. g. Yahoo Answers).

The main reason Asian students do better in math is drill. Their parents also tend to uniformly value education, which a lot of American parents really don't.


(Report Comment)

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