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School Committee Discusses Policy Over Recess as a Right

Mike Rigney (credit: Anne-Marie Fiore)
Mike Rigney (credit: Anne-Marie Fiore)

Part Two of a transcript from the Jan. 21, 2014 Chelmsford School Committee meeting. For the full meeting, click here. 

8:41 p.m.

The next agenda item was policy, but the packet did not include any information on the policies that were supposed to be discussed.

However, the information was founded and discussion began.

The first policy discussion surrounded the naming of buildings, with the Policy Subcommittee recommending no changes. That recommendation was approved 4-0-0.

The next policy discussed was related to advertising on school property. Skaar said that naming of buildings must be only toward individuals who aided the school district in a significant way, but temporary advertising could be exempted by this provided that it was approved by the school’s principal, the superintendent and the School Committee.

DiSilvio said that while technically the principals are only legally responsible for what happens within the walls of their school, not the area around their school, however that the principal should be listened to on issues relating to advertisements around their schools.

Rigney had a question on this and the wording changes, and the superintendent and School Committee had the final say on these items.

Tiano said he couldn’t imagine a situation where a principal would be against something and Parent Teacher organizations would disagree with them.

There was more discussion over exceptions in the past to advertising on school property, including temporary advertising.

DiSilvio said that advertising inside schools may go too far with some exceptions where advertisers buy things for the schools.

Discussion continued and Skaar said that the fact there is a scoreboard within the McCarthy Gym that has an advertisement for a company that no longer exists is a good reason why advertisements should be temporary.

9:00 p.m.

There was more discussion over a set of guidelines for situations such as temporary signs during events where companies or organizations rent a field, and that temporary signs would be allowed without the need for approval as long as they met current policies prohibiting things like advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products.

The new proposed policy was approved with some minor changes. Contracts for advertisements would be limited to three years.

9:08 p.m.

The final proposed policy change discussed ensuring recess for kindergarten through Grade 5.

Rigney said that the proposed change is too wordy. Skaar said that there may be proposed changes to this soon.

There was more discussion over the issue of teacher flexibility with holding students from recess during situations where they create disruptions, saying the student could be withheld one time, but not on a repeated basis.

Rigney said that he found eight communities in Massachusetts specifically stated in their policies that recess could not be withheld as a form of punishment. He then gave Billerica’s policy as an example, saying that the occasional loss was acceptable when it was academically beneficial to the student.

The committee generally agreed that the occasional loss of recess for a student was acceptable, but repeated loss and removing recess as a punishment was unacceptable.

Tiano then discussed comparisons to what parents do with their children at home and asked if an instructor needs to correct behavior; it impacts flexibility, particularly at the kindergarten level, and that the committee should be careful with absolutes.

Assistant Superintendent Kristan Rodriguez proposed wording that would defer punishment to after school.

DiSilvio said that there are certain individuals in the district that use recess as a weapon.

9:30 p.m.

Certain items of the policy were apparently deferred to the Wellness subcommittee for additional oversight, with the rest being approved.

9:36 p.m.

Rigney requested that liaison reports be deferred due to the lateness of the hour, action items were discussed and DiSilvio just learned that the Chelmsford High School girls’ basketball team had just defeated Andover for the first time in 15 years.

The committee then adjourned.  

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