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Redistricting may not affect current high schoolers

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
When no one signed up for the public comment portion of Monday night’s Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting, Chairman Dr. Jim Emerson said, “I guess they’re saving those for next Monday night.”
That’s when the first public hearing will be held on the proposed high school redistricting plan, which would change district lines at all of the high schools except Salisbury. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the Knox Middle School auditorium.
A second hearing will be held Nov. 9, the following Monday, at 6 p.m. in the Southeast Middle School gym.
Bryce Beard said he and fellow board members had received a lot of e-mails about the proposed redistricting plan and announced that the majority of the board is not interested in approving a plan that would affect students currently in high school. “I want that out there somehow so that they will know that,” he said of concerned citizens.
The board has discussed redistricting the high schools effective at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year and allowing then-juniors and seniors to remain under a grandfather clause or postponing it another year with the same grandfather clause, which would mean that no current high-school students would be affected.People who wish to speak at the public hearings will be asked to sign up before the meeting and limit comments to three minutes. Board members have said they will schedule more hearings if necessary to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to be heard.
Maps showing changes in district lines under the proposed redistricting plan are available for public viewing at the school system’s administrative offices at 110 N. Long St. in East Spencer and 314 N. Ellis St. in Salisbury and at the system’s Transportation Department at 2724 Old Concord Road. Maps are also available at Rowan Public Library headquarters in Salisbury and at the East and South branches.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board voted 6-0 (Linda Freeze was absent due to a death in her family) to approve the first reading of a proposed revision to the school system’s student discipline and punishment policy which would ban corporal punishment ó defined as “any kind of punishment inflicted on the body, including spanking, paddling or slapping.”
Dr. Walter Hart, assistant superintendent for administration, said the proposed revision includes, as suggested by board attorney Don Sayers, circumstances for which teachers may use “reasonable force to control behavior or to remove a person from the scene.”
The proposed revision would allow the use of reasonable force in the following situations: “to quell a disturbance threatening injury to others; to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects on the person or within the control of a student; for self defense; for the protection of persons or property; or to restrain or correct pupils or otherwise maintain order.”
Hart said corporal punishment is being used in the system “on a very limited basis, very, very little.”
The board will vote on the second reading of the proposed policy revision at its November meeting, after which it would go into effect if approved.
Also at the meeting, North Rowan High School Principal Darrell McDowell updated board members on the school’s iPod Touch Digital Learning Environment Project.
Last year, McDowell said ninth graders received iPods to use at school, but this year, they get to take them home as long as they and their parents sign an iPod user agreement.
Students are excitedly anticipating their first iPod “sleepover” on Nov. 9, he said. The school’s iPod program was expanded this year to include ninth and 10th graders after starting in the ninth grade last year.
Salisbury-Rowan school officials will join with representatives of Apple, which created the iPod, in visiting North Rowan High School on Friday, Nov. 20, to observe teachers and students utilizing one-on-on iPod technology.
In other business, Dr. Rebecca Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum, reviewed staff development plans for the first of four Early Release Days Thursday, during which classes will be dismissed 2.5 hours earlier than usual.
Board member Karen South Carpenter commented on the creativity of the activities, including Shive Elementary’s planned bus tour of the school attendance area as part of a continuation of its “Framework for Understanding Poverty.”
Smith also reported on activities of its Closing the Achievement Gap Committee, which meets every other month and is comprised of representatives from the school system, community agencies, businesses and the faith community.
Two members of the committee reported on programs at their schools. Antoine Brisbone, assistant Principal at North High, shared how a partnership with Livingstone is providing support to 35 students at North participating in the Upward Bound program sponsored by the college.
Participants traveled to Washington, D.C., this summer, where they visited Howard University and not far away in Maryland, Bowie State University.
Isenberg Principal Nathan Currie told board members about the school’s efforts to close the gender gap between male and female students.
As part of Thursday’s staff development, for example, he said staff will participate in a program on research on development of the male and female brain.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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