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School fees to rise; policies set on Chromebook use by students

SoVaNow.com / July 22, 2020
School fees are on the rise for the 2020-21 school year.

The increases were announced by Mecklenburg County Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols on Monday during the monthly meeting of the Mecklenburg County School Board.

The cost of planners for students in grades 2 through 5 is $4.

Middle school art students will pay $8 per course for supplies. Band students will pay $10 per year for supplies and another $25 per year to rent an instrument. Gym suits, which are optional, cost $15. CTE supplies are $5 per course/per semester.

Art supplies for high school students will cost $10 per course. Students enrolled in accounting will pay $17.50 for the work papers or $17.25 for advanced accounting work papers. The nursing assistant workbook costs $9.95 and students enrolled in photojournalism will pay $10 per course for supplies.

Driver’s education/behind the wheel fees are $125 per course.

Students driving to school will pay $25 per year for a parking permit, or $12.50 for a one semester permit. FFA dues are $14 per year, CTE supplies are $5 per course/per semester and diploma covers will now cost $10.

The cost of transcripts for students who are no longer at the school is $3.

In other business discussed at Monday’s meeting, the Town of Boydton has asked school trustees to support a change to the mailing address of the new consolidated school campus, asking that it be changed from Baskerville to Boydton. The reasons offered by town officials are that the new campus is less than five miles from Boydton town limits, Boydton will be supplying sewer service to the site as well as fire and EMS emergency services.

Trustees agreed to the request without opposition.

Microsoft was recognized for their “exemplary service to the school division. “We are so thankful for them,” said Nichols.

Trustees were given a copy of the newly written Chromebook Initiative Handbook. It sets out the expectations for both students and parents for the care and use of the mobile devices provided to students in grades three-12.

Chromebooks will remain the property of the school division, but students will be allowed to take the devices assigned to them home once they or their parents or guardians sign off on the terms of use.

Parents/guardians are responsible for the cost of repairs or replacements if the device is not returned at the end of the school year, if the device is intentionally damaged, or lost or stolen because of negligence.

The cost for repair of the device for accidental damage will be covered by insurance on the device for the first instance. It will be $25 for the second instance, and $50 if accidental damages occur a third time. The fee if there are more than three instances of damage will be determined by the extent of the damage.

The school’s insurance plan does not cover loss or theft. The fee will be determined on a declining scale based on the number of years the device has been in service. Anyone intentionally damaging their Chromebook will be subject to disciplinary action and damage fees.

Parents must also monitor student use of Chromebooks. The devices will be subject to the same filtering rules both on and off campus. Although no web content filtering system is 100 percent effective, the software used by the school division provides protection against inappropriate web content that as defined by the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act.

According to the handbook, parental involvement in the monitoring process is key for keeping students safe online. The school division suggests that students be encouraged to use the electronic device in a common room in the house and not in their bedroom and that parents develop a set of rules and expectations for use of electronic devices at home.

The division handbook also asks parents or guardians to turn off their home WiFi at appropriate times since the Chromebooks require an Internet connection to function. Turning off your home WiFi at night can prevent late night YouTube sessions or chatting with friends at inappropriate times. Students can still access Google Docs Suite while the device is offline.

Students will be required to keep their devices in the cases supplied, whenever it is not in use, leave all asset tags on the bottom, keep a clean device, but avoid using paper towels, napkins or water for cleaning as these may cause damage.

Students will not be allowed to decorate their devices with drawings, writings, stickers, or any other markings and must use USB headphones to prolong the life of the sound jack and improve quality.

Damage to the Chromebook should be reported immediately and students must be able to produce their devices when asked for spot checks for compliance with the rules and regulations.

Students who are attending school in person will be required to bring their fully charged devices to school each day and should never leave their assigned device unattended for any reason, whether at school or home.

Mecklenburg County’s handbook for elementary school students has been updated to include provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents are encouraged to review the handbook before the start of school by going online to MCPSweb.org and clicking on the link for their child’s school.

Trustee Wanda Bailey asked how the school division plans to grade student conduct if students are attending school virtually. Bailey said she was raising the question because marks for conduct can impact whether a student makes honor roll. Nichols promised to find an answer to that question.

Nichols also said that payments for driver’s education fees are being returned to students who were unable to take the behind the wheel portion of the driver’s education class during the 2019-20 school year.

Governor’s School Principal Wesley Swain is asking Mecklenburg County to consider sending all students attending Governor’s School to the SVCC Alberta campus starting next school year. Currently, students from Bluestone attend Governor’s School at the Keysville campus while students from Park View go to SVCC in Alberta.

Nichols said Swain made the suggestion in anticipation of the upcoming consolidation of the two high schools. When Park View and Bluestone students move to the new campus in Baskerville, the school will be closer to the SVCC campus in Alberta. For that reason, the students will attend Governor’s School in Alberta.

According to Nichols, Swain did not want the students who will start Governor’s School in 2021-22 to have to change campuses their senior year.

Several board members objected to the request, among them Glenn Edwards, Gloria Smith, and chairman Gavin Honeycutt. They all felt it was an undue burden to force students living on the western end of the county, many of whom drive themselves to school, to have to drive an extra 30 minutes to attend Governor’s School.

“We are in the business of serving our students and the Governor’s School should accommodate the kids instead of the kids accommodating the Governor’s School,” said Edwards.

Bailey added that any discussion about moving students was premature. She explained that there was no way of knowing how many students would qualify for Governor’s School once the Bluestone and Park View campuses were united.

“It will be the top students who score the best on the exam to go to Governor School. That’s an unknown for every cohort. I appreciate that Mrs. Swain is looking ahead, but we need to have all the information we can get,” she said.

Bailey asked that the matter be referred to the instruction committee for further review and “see what other options exist.”

Brian Dalton, head of maintenance and operations, updated trustees on the progress of construction at the county’s new secondary school campus. He said contractors are still on track to finish in June 2022 and that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have no impact on progress at the site.

All students attending Mecklenburg County schools will be able to receive free lunch through the school division starting in September, regardless of their ability to pay. Earlier this year, Robin Moore, head of food services for Mecklenburg County Public Schools, applied for the division to participate in a special program offered through the National School Lunch Program through which the federal government underwrites the cost of school lunches. The application was approved last week.

Adults eating breakfast and lunch at the schools will still be required to pay for their meals.

Steve Whitten, local teacher representative with the Virginia Education Association, sent a letter to Nichols taking issue with the lack of teacher input in the development of plans to reopen Mecklenburg County Public Schools. Hearing this, Trustee Ricky Allgood asked, “I thought we accommodated everyone?”

Nichols replied that the division has been more focused on the kids. “We felt there was a high priority for kids from a nutrition, mental health, and social/emotional standpoint.

“There are teachers, staff and bus drivers who are anxious. I acknowledge and respect that, and that is why we are watching the numbers carefully.”

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Comments

Whats the policy on getting all students internet access?

Comments

Actually fees will go down as there are no locker rental fees or lock purchase fees, if needed, for the lockers.


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