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Solution Sought For Cell Phone Use

Waterville Central School District is considering a technique to prevent students from using their cell phones during the school day.

WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring outlined the idea at last week’s Board of Education meeting.

Spring said the Wellness Committee has been discussing solutions as the use of cell phones by students has been difficult to enforce.

As students came to school each day, they would place their cell phone in a pouch which would automatically lock.

At the end of their day the pouch would unlock.

“It sounds strict and it is,’’ Spring said.

Students would carry the pouch with them during the day.

Pouches cost between $25 and $30 each.

Spring and Board members discussed whether WCS has an actual written out policy regarding student cell phone use, in the student Code of Conduct or a practice that is more informal.

Waterville does not allow students in Pre-K through eighth grade to bring cell phones to school.

In High School students can bring them and can use them only during lunch.

Students, however, have found ways to get around that, administrators said.

For example, students will say they need to use the bathroom when they want to check their phone.

Board member Justin Barth said he’s heard from students that phone use is obvious and not hidden.

“I have a problem spending money to enforce something that is not being enforced,’’ he said.

Barth suggested putting in a stricter policy and enforcing it.

Board president Dan Nichols agreed the matter seemed to be more of an enforcement issues.

Board member Steve Stanton said he needed to hear from teachers what was needed. “How can we say enforcement is a problem when there’s no enforcement?’’

Board member Linda Kelly said she didn’t want to wait until fall to make changes, but they should start immediately.

Junior-Senior High Principal Jennifer Dainotto said cell phone enforcement is

progressive discipline, with students told to put it in their locker.

If that is not done the phone goes to the office and a parent is called, up to in- school suspension.

Board member Pete Casatelli said if some teachers are enforcing no cell phones then everyone should do it.

One of the concerns with cell phones is the accessibility to social media, which can become a forum for bullying.

Dainotto said she’s established a Safe Space in her office, where students can meet to discuss their conflicts and work things out.

Parents are often involved in the discussions, she said.

Most of the issues are normal conflict between students.

Discipline matters have decreased from last year, she said.

However, Dainotto said more parental support is needed. “The first response when I call shouldn’t be my child didn’t do that.’’

Stanton said social media is used to exclude students, who then become the focus of talk on the platform by other students.

“We also need to address the silent observers who don’t speak up in support of kids being bullied by others.’’

Dainotto said younger students are more willing to come to her about problems, while the older students are reluctant.

Board members also discussed with Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Tom Gleason the condition of athletic fields in the spring, ...


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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