Panel OKs cell phone changes

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Cell phones could be allowed next school year in four Richmond County schools under a pilot program being considered, giving relief to a policy that Superintendent Dana Bedden calls archaic.

A school board committee on Tuesday night gave the OK for students at Butler, Hephzibah, Westside and A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet high schools to bring cell phones to school as long as they are not seen or heard.

In addition, the committee endorsed easing the board's current policy, which confiscates all cell phones found for 365 days, and the punishment for possessing a cell phone at all schools. The full board will consider the changes Thursday, and the details of how long the phone would be taken and the corresponding punishment would be approved at a later time. That would also go into effect next school year.

"The 365-day rule is archaic to me, and it's driving public safety up the wall," Dr. Bedden said.

Students are going to bring phones regardless, and policies should focus on ensuring the phones don't interrupt instruction, he said.

field trips

Field trips not already scheduled for this school year will remain that way.

Dr. Bedden made the announcement at Tuesday's committee meeting, calling for a moratorium on unnecessary travel. Field trips that are already planned or that are in the works won't be affected.

School officials are asking that $200,000 be added to the system's diesel account to avoid going over budget because of high fuel costs.

The superintendent is also limiting travel of board employees that isn't required.

TECHNOLOGY UPGRADES

All Richmond County school buses will be outfitted with global positioning satellite equipment by Saturday.

The technology upgrade will enable the transportation department to know where all buses are at all times, allowing for increased efficiency and safety.

The six schools most in need of technology could also be getting an upgrade. School board committee members approved allocating $500,000 in sales tax revenue to the schools so they can address their technology needs as they see fit.

The allotments are as follows: $90,000 for the Academy of Richmond County; $90,000 for Langford Middle; $70,000 for Deer Chase Elementary; $70,000 for Freedom Park Elementary; $70,000 for Lake Forest Hills Elementary; and $70,000 for Sue Reynolds Elementary. The committee also approved $40,000 for any wiring the schools might need.

On Thursday, the full board will consider giving final approval to the committee's decision.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (65) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
5704
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Just My Opinion 04/16/08 - 04:39 am
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Sorry, I just don't see why a

Sorry, I just don't see why a student needs a cellphone DURING school hours. If they need to make a call during the school day, let them use the school telephone. To allow them to use their own phone during the day means their minds will be on that and not on their school work. You know good and well that these kids will be texting each other during a lecture and probably during tests. To take away the ban on cellphones just takes away yet another way for the teachers to have control over their class. IMO, this is not a good decision and will come back to haunt Dr. Bedden. "Archaic" or not, the ban was put in place for a reason.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 04/16/08 - 04:44 am
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With knives, guns and riots

With knives, guns and riots in our schools, kids' having cell phones to use in calling 911 in the event of danger makes sense to me.

NEone
6
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NEone 04/16/08 - 06:13 am
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JMO: Dr. Bedden said they

JMO: Dr. Bedden said they can HAVE the cell phone, just not USE it. It makes sense. Leaving it in their vehicle or in their locker only asks for it to be stolen. Just keep the thing turned off! But kids calling 911 is asking for chaos. An administrator needs to make that call. That's what they are there for.

no4word
0
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no4word 04/16/08 - 06:15 am
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Students don't "need" the

Students don't "need" the phone but should be allowed to have one in the event of an emergency. Some kids may try to text during class but why paint every kid with the same brush. Dishonesty will happen with or without a cell phone. Also, the 365 days rule is ridiculous. That is, in effect, stealing someone's personal property. It isn't a toy. We were only allowed to park in student parking when I was in high school, but on occasion someone running late would park in the teacher's parking lot closer to the doors. No car ever got towed and impounded for 365 days. Parents would have been livid. I know plenty of parents that have complained about this "no cell phone" policy for years. This will bring some much needed goodwill to the RCBOE.

Bears
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Bears 04/16/08 - 06:37 am
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My children are not students

My children are not students in the Richmond County school system, however I feel this is a good idea, in our school system, the students are not supposed to have phones, but if they do, they do not get them taken away just for having them, but if they are seen or heard they are removed from the student and must be picked up by the parent from the VP of that child. The students are gonna bring them if you give them permission or not so why add more stress to your day by walking around looking for a phone in someones pocket or bag, but you have to be firm and stick to the rule about not having the phones out at anytime to make it work.

MartinezMom
0
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MartinezMom 04/16/08 - 06:45 am
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It gives me peace of mind to

It gives me peace of mind to know that my kids have a cell phone at school. You never know what situation may come up.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
8346
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 04/16/08 - 06:46 am
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We survived all this time

We survived all this time without them, and allowing them is asking for trouble. You might as well put a burning match to kindling and say don't burn. Same result!

champagne
0
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champagne 04/16/08 - 06:54 am
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I have to say I do not agree

I have to say I do not agree with cell phones is school, too much of a temptation for children to use them and I can assure you they do all the time according to my step-daughter. She did not get her cell phone until she started driving and is only supposed to use it to call us or in case of emergency. It is to stay in her car during school. If we find out otherwise, she knows her car will be taken to school and she will be back riding the good old school bus.

shivas
2
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shivas 04/16/08 - 07:03 am
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"We should not allow

"We should not allow transistor radios in our schools." 1950 debate.

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 04/16/08 - 07:09 am
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Hmmm. there is clearly two

Hmmm. there is clearly two sides to this. On one hand, it is good cause a child can call for help in an emergency, on the other hand, didn't some kids call in bomb threats on a cell phone at a middle school?

christian134
1
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christian134 04/16/08 - 07:09 am
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At least something is being

At least something is being done, maybe not the best changes but anything is better than nothing....These children are more than likely using cell phones already and quite frequently. Children are weaned on computers, cell phones, text messaging...They know more about them probably by the time they reach the tender age of 5 so we might as well allow them to have them just so we can keep them in our line of sight. Teachers and parents need to be able to understand their communication languages so they can decipher the messages....Hey these kids are smart when it comes to things they want to learn and understand.....Thanks Dr. Bedden for taking the plunge into an educational nightmare.....Just don't give up....

DoubleD
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DoubleD 04/16/08 - 07:09 am
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On the radio this morning Mr.

On the radio this morning Mr. Bedden was quoted saying, "They bring them to school anyway." I view that as the kids are the ones really making the rules. The current rule is the rule. Why change it, becuase "they do it anyway?" Kids need to be taught discipline. Why not just make drugs, underage sex, guns, and knives legal, they do it anyway? We are also teaching them to be dependant on cellphones, as many of us are today, when there is no need for it. There are enough staff and phones to dial 911. It would be chaotic to have all the kids flooding 911 with calls.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 04/16/08 - 07:11 am
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shivas, that debate point

shivas, that debate point turned out to be true.

shaleah73
5
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shaleah73 04/16/08 - 07:52 am
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I think that allowing

I think that allowing students to bring cellphones to school is appropriate, provided that rules are enforced in regards to the restricted times of usage. There are several students who attend after school activities, whether it be sports or academic, that would benefit from having a cellphone, especially since it would be after administrative personnel have gone for the day, and students would be unable to utilize the school office phones. And by the way, when is the last time you saw a payphone that worked? Emergencies can and do occur at any time. Dr. Bedden is being practical in his decision to at least test the idea under this pilot program. Also, it can't be that difficult for a teacher to recognize a student texting or talking on the phone during class time.... Please, give them the benefit of the doubt.

NEone
6
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NEone 04/16/08 - 07:52 am
0
0
Double D: Weapons like guns

Double D: Weapons like guns and knives are illegal,as well as sex when underage. Phones are not. That's the difference. And by the way, in Georgia, sex between any unmarried people, no matter the age, is ILLEGAL. Try enforcing that one!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 04/16/08 - 07:53 am
0
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IMHO Dr. Bedden has been

IMHO Dr. Bedden has been drinking "Larke Juice" again.

DoubleD
0
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DoubleD 04/16/08 - 08:03 am
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Yeah, I know that there is a

Yeah, I know that there is a huge difference. It is just another unecessary distractor that is going to be left up to our teachers to deal with. I'm sure that daily someone will forget to turn off or put on vibrate and it will be ringing in class. How about the tucked in shirt thing? They wasted plenty of time trying to enforce that, but having a shirt untucked isn't illegal. I haven't been out of school that long so I know there are plenty of phones in the event that someone is staying after school. Obviously many people show their dependancy of cell phones. I occasionally leave mine at home to prove a point to my employer, that they have no reason to be in touch with me 24/7 unless they pay for my cell phone.

Little Lamb
46405
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Little Lamb 04/16/08 - 08:11 am
0
0
Do they let them bring I-Pods

Do they let them bring I-Pods to school? Man, those things would be GREAT for use during tests. You could have files with all kinds of text in them - dates of the Spanish Inquisition, the quadratic formula, the atomic weight of sodium, the capital of Maine, the formula for the area of a triangle. Wow. I wish we had them when I was taking tests.

Purelaughs
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Purelaughs 04/16/08 - 08:18 am
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Funny that those strongly

Funny that those strongly against these changes in school policy were in middle/high school when cell phones weren't yet created. Kids are going to do what they want to do. The best case scenario is try to keep interruptions to a minimum.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 04/16/08 - 08:21 am
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The best way "to keep

The best way "to keep interruptions to a minimum" is the way it is now. NO cell phones in school, PERIOD !

woodsman
6
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woodsman 04/16/08 - 08:26 am
0
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Phones in school are

Phones in school are convenient and all but, won't kids just text each other the questions and answers to tests? The sheer time consumption of texting will keep these kids so preoccupied sending messages and pictures and videos back and forth to each other, that education will suffer. The convenience is great, but todays phones are worse than the TV could ever be for wasting time.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 04/16/08 - 08:37 am
0
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"won't kids just text each

"won't kids just text each other the questions and answers to tests?" - could this be be part of the 'no child left behind' program !

dani
12
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dani 04/16/08 - 08:43 am
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Surely you don't expect these

Surely you don't expect these rules to be enforceable? No problem though...having your cellphone is much more important than getting an education. As usual, the bad students will abuse the use and the students who are trying to learn will have just one more distraction. Un-be-liev-able.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 04/16/08 - 08:47 am
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On the other hand........

On the other hand........ Could this be a way to find out who can afford a cell phone so they can reduce the number of families who get free school lunches, SSI, Medicaid, and other welfare hand-outs ?

tx1230
0
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tx1230 04/16/08 - 08:49 am
0
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I agree with one of the

I agree with one of the readers about having a cell phone, they said "her child was only allowed to use it for emergencies, and it was to be left in her car. If she found out it was being used other wise that it would be taken away". My son goes to Hephzibah middle, and I would prefer he take his phone with all the mess that goes on at school. Same thing, if I find out its being used during school hours and I see he's slacking on his grades, then ITS GONE! His book bag is NOT just for books! Parents have control, they just don't know it!'

kf2222222
0
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kf2222222 04/16/08 - 08:51 am
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get a life or a job! your

get a life or a job! your probably at work stealing time! you have nothing else to do but leave petty comments!

DoubleD
0
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DoubleD 04/16/08 - 09:05 am
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0
How about the fact that I can

How about the fact that I can easily pull my phone out to take a picture of the test without being noticed, and save it for later to give it to friends that haven't taken it yet?

KingJames
10
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KingJames 04/16/08 - 09:05 am
0
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In the event of an emergency,

In the event of an emergency, most kids aren't going to call 911 because they know school faculty and staff will already have done so. Most kids will call or text their parents and loved ones to let them know they are OK. I don't see any harm in that, especially since no one knows when and where the next school tragedy will take place.

dani
12
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dani 04/16/08 - 09:23 am
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Okay, people. Keep spoiling

Okay, people. Keep spoiling these young people. You think there are bad things going on now ...You ain't seen nothing yet. Give them everything they want, (NO, not need, they want!,. phones are NOT a necessity) and woe unto all of us in the future.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 04/16/08 - 09:25 am
0
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They will give this pilot

They will give this pilot program a try.....and if the right to use their phones is abused the program will be stopped......welcome to the real world kids.....................

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