Mad dash to finish at RHS
School starts Aug. 24 and the new RHS isn't yet ready even though it's racing in that direction, according to consultant J. P. Grom who addressed the RISD school board Monday.
"This is going to require a lot of patience," Grom pleaded. "Toward the end we're going to have teachers, contractors, furniture movers, all in the same place at the same time. It's going to be a tough fight to the end."
Meeting in the Central Administration Building, trustees also heard the popular, and controversial, Mohawk hairstyle is being banned by the district, that the policy on cell phone use is being slightly relaxed and discussed the new locker-free approach at the high school.
Volleyball practice Grom said the new RHS gym wing is complete enough to host volleyball practice beginning Monday. "We've met a critical milestone relating to the gyms," he said.
As for the remainder of the school, Grom emphasized much of the schedule has been made up after Hurricane Ike, which hit the Houston area, caused a five-week delay in steel delivery.
"Cafeteria furniture is being delivered this week," he said. "The central column in the rotunda is being installed. And in the old part of RHS, the library is being renovated into the technology area."
"Our goal is that on Aug. 24 students will be able to walk in, sit down in the classrooms and learn," he added.
The brand new intermediate school (grades 3-5) is further along. "The cafeteria-kitchen area will actually be turned over to the school district on Monday (Aug. 3)," Grom said.
Mohawks, cell phones
A discussion of 2009-10 student handbooks with the district's four principals included the news that RISD is banning Mohawk hairstyles.
"They are very distracting," Elementar y Pr incipal Robin Faulkner said. "Sometimes the hair is so long the kids can't see."
And the hairstyle is becoming wildly popular. "We've even had two inquiries from parents who would have transferred their children to the Rockdale ISD if we allowed Mohawks because their current districts did not," Penny Curry, assistant superintendent for instruction, said.
Cell phones, which were prev iously totally banned from Rockdale ISD campuses, will be allowed under some circumstances at some campuses.
The phones must be turned off during class hours but could be used with parental permission during lunch or even as calculators in some classrooms with the permission of teachers.
Most discussion was triggered when RHS Principal Chad Jones affirmed the district's decision to go lockerless at the campus in 2009-10.
"The new part of RHS does not have lockers," Jones said. "We will have two sets of textbooks, one for classroom use and one for home use. Students will be allowed to carry backpacks."
"Didn't we try this once at the junior-high and then go back to lockers?" trustee Lee Jenkins asked.
Board member Lisa Gerthe questioned if "seven notebooks" would fit in a regular backpack.
Supt. Dr. Howell Wright said the lockerless idea actually came from the district's student advisory committee with members expressing concern about being tardy during class changes in the expanded high school.
"We plan on talking to teachers about reducing notebook sizes," he said.
Dr. Wright said the old lockers will be secured with cables but won't be removed for the time being. "Schools today are being built without lockers," he said. "They're one less place kids can't put something they don't need to have in school."
In other business, trustees:
• Okayed the previously discussed salary schedules for 2009- 10, subject to approval of federal stimulus funds, representing an approximate $1,000 raise for teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses and a speech pathologist.
• Voted to create four new positions, contingent upon receipt of a two-year grant of federal stimulus funds. They are a science/ math secondary curriculum specialist, special education teacher and two paraprofessional special education positions.
• Decide to stay with the district's current graduation plans. A new state plan, under HB 3, would allow for more electives.
• Hired junior-high special education teacher James DeWitt and high school English teacher Julia Alford.
• Discussed new facilities tours and meet the teacher events to be scheduled at a later date.
Tabled discussion of an athletic facilities master plan.