Published 12:00 am Monday, October 8, 2007

Staff Reporter

RESERVE-The St. John Parish School Board discussed the issue of cell phone possession and use in parish high schools at the meeting on Thursday, but only moved to table the issue and send it back to the board’s disciplinary committee.

The disciplinary committee met on Wednesday and came up with a proposal to change the St. John student handbook policy regarding telecommunications. The committee wanted to allow students to have cell phones on campus under the conditions that they must be stowed away and not visible and the phones must be turned off. Under the existing rule, cell phone possession is prohibited.

St. John Schools Resource Officer Vernon Bailey was strongly opposed to the idea of cell phone possession in schools. Bailey says he has already had several problems with students and cell phones in the past week and he believes that cell phones will do nothing but cause more problems if the new policy is implemented.

The board also chose to override policy and add an issue of water leakage damage at LaPlace Elementary to the agenda. A motion was made to hire the construction company Ryan Environmental to repair the water leakage problem. Classroom walls of the school’s seventh and eighth grade building are severely damaged by moisture. It is not certain what caused a moisture build-up on the walls, but the architect and the contractors have a few theories.

The air conditioning unit in those classrooms blows cold air on the walls causing condensation. The other theory is that the walls are being saturated with condensation because the doors to that specific building are left open all day.

The board moved to pay Ryan Environmental up to $62,000 to repair the damaged walls. The construction would be done one classroom at a time, taking between two and three days per classroom. The classes being held in the classrooms that are being worked on will be moved to another classroom or lab. The repair is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Superintendent Michael Coburn said the building is safe and no students or teachers at the school are in danger.

The board was recently informed that the parish’s application for a magnet school grant did not rank high enough in the eyes of the Magnet School Assistance Program. There were 98 applicants in the state and 41 were recommended for magnet school grants. Coburn said that the administration is very disappointed by the news.