Administrators decide to let issue settle for now; will bring up again when new principal is hired for 2002-2003 school year.
Alta Superintendent Fred Maharry told a small crowd gathered at the high school Tuesday night that school administrators have decided to keep the open noon hour policy in place for this year, but changes may be implemented after this school year is over.
The open noon hour policy, which has been in effect in the Alta school system for 35 years, will be around for at least one more year, as administrators and school board members said they did not want to make a rush to judgment on the issue this academic year.
Instead, the school, which will hire a new secondary principal next year to replace the retiring Ron Mueller, will allow the new principal to help make a decision and make the process go much more smoothly.
Maharry said it just seemed like the right decision to wait and take a more in-depth look at the policy next year.
"My belief on this is that instead of trying to patch something together right now, we should wait until we hire the new high school principal and let he or she be a part of the process," Maharry said. "We want this to be done right. We don't feel we can look at all this in two to three weeks and give it justice."
The high school will continue to use the new teacher monitoring system it has had in place for the first two months of the year, which has had teachers at three corners of the high school supervising each area.
The educators are in charge of watching for students smoking, students who are driving over noon hour without permission and pupils who may be engaging in any other activity violating school policy.
In previous years, the only person in charge of supervision during noon hour was Mueller, who had been stationed in the lunchroom in the basement, where the majority of high school students were located during the lunch period.
Maharry said the newly-implemented system has been beneficial to helping curb some of the problems, but said the entire issue, which includes students walking off campus to different places uptown before school, would need to be addressed by the 2002-2003 school year.
"We want to make sure students are where they're supposed to be," Maharry said. "For example, I'm not comfortable with students getting off the bus and walking straight to Darell's. That makes me nervous. Once they get here, they should stay here."
Much of the concern stems from both safety and liability issues.
Students become the responsibility of the school once they walk onto the school grounds in the morning for any before-school programs, and the pupils are under the school's care until all of the after-school programs are completed.
With an open campus, it becomes harder for the school to conduct their supervisory duties, and Maharry said that would be the main focus of any future decisions regarding open noon hour and open campus.
"Simply put, it's easier to supervise our students when they are here," Maharry said. "I don't have all of the answers right now. All I'm saying is that we will need to supervise them more closely, and we will have to look how best to do that."
He also said any future decisions on the issue should not be interpreted to mean anything negative about the Alta student body.
"Please understand, I don't look at this as an indictment of the students at all," Maharry said, "because our student body here is very, very good. But, we do need to look at supervising students more closely. It's just time for us to review our practices and make a responsible decision."