State laws impact schools

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - New state laws, and a new school van, were the top issues at Monday's Brandywine Community School's board meeting.
New additions have been made to a school safety zone policy to rid schools of individuals who have been guilty of criminal sexual conduct. One law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, prohibits sex offenders from working for a school and also from coming within 1,000 feet of an academic building.
A separate part of the program, still in legislation, would require all schools to digitally fingerprint, and perform background checks, on all current employees by July 1, 2006. All new employees the school may hire would also have to complete the same obligations. Superintendent Gary Rider said the cost to Brandywine schools could be between $12,000 and $13,000.
Rider said the new laws were a popular topic at last weekend's superintendent meetings in Detroit. Many of the issues with the program dealt with volunteer coaches and construction workers, and whether they would also have to be screened before working near a school.
Another large topic, at the superintendent meetings, was the new graduation requirements put forth by the state. Rider said the school could expect to see changes in the four core areas of English, math, science and social studies. A full year of physical education and one credit of visual performing arts would continue to be required.
Graduating students would be required to complete four credits in both English and math, and three credits each in science and social studies.
The biggest impact could be on students close to graduating and also on the number of employees the schools would have to hire in order to accommodate the requirements.
One item on the agenda the board was happy to accept was the 1991 GMC van from Paul Williams' shop class.
The vehicle was repaired by four students, Adam Simons, Derek Mankowski, Farren West and John Gustafson, who used parts from a donated 1986 GMC van to replace headlights, mirrors and a rear door. The group also installed new brakes and a new radiator.
The seats of the van were also salvageable, but Gustafson said they were used to fill a more important void in the classroom.
Simons, Mankowski and Gustafson are all headed to technical college in Ohio and are in the process of talking West, the lone female of the group, into joining them.
The cost to repair the van, which will be used as a school maintenance vehicle, was $300. Comparable vehicles at local dealerships were priced at around $2500.
Other topics covered included the school improvement framework that was discussed during the teacher's professional development day. A large focus of the improving framework was curriculum mapping. The goal is to educate every student with the same content while including a personal touch from the teacher.
The board scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.