The Cherokee Community School District Board of Education Monday night heard a detailed overview of proposed changes in the Cherokee Washington High and Middle School Code of Conduct Policy, and received an ominous caveat from Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom regarding the District's financial outlook for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.
WHS Principal Larry Hunecke advised the Board of proposed changes in the Code of Conduct Policy resulting from past meetings with a special committee formed to study the existing Policy and to invoke change where deemed necessary.
According to Hunecke, there were four main issues discussed at the committee meetings, including initiation (hazing), student transition from 8th grade to high school, mere presence (in attendance at an event where Code violations may have occurred), and the removal of a previous infraction from a student's record.
As stated in the committee's language changes regarding initiation, any act of initiation may be investigated by the administration as a possible violation of the Code of Conduct. Exceedingly inappropriate or offensive conduct such as assaulting staff or students, gross insubordination (talking back or refusing to cooperate with authorities), hazing or harassment of others, including group conduct will be in violation.
Regarding Student Transition, students who are in the 8th grade and participating in a high school event and have been deemed in violation of the Code of Conduct Policy, shall follow the consequences as set out in the high school policy. This violation will not follow them to high school, however. It is also noted that an 8th grader becomes a high school student as soon as the 8th grade year is completed.
The committee made no changes in the "mere presence" wording with the understanding that it would be hard to enforce due to inconsistent sharing of information between students, parents, District, and law enforcement (if involved). Mere presence regards students physically present at a party, etc. where illegal substances - alcohol, drugs, etc. - may be involved.
The recommendation from the committee regarding Removal of Violation from a student's record is that the period of time be moved from the current 12 months to 18 months before a request of a removal of a violation be submitted to the District office.
The Code of Conduct changes will be further discussed with Chalstrom and brought back to the Board at the February meeting.
In his report, Chalstrom listed the financial challenges confronting the District for next year. He distributed spread sheets to show actual and anticipated numbers.
The biggest challenge, according to Chalstrom, is the State formula-based loss of $187,000 due to declining enrollment. Add to that increased expenditures due to inflation, and the fact Iowa District's may soon be forced into Department of Education compliance to hire a full-time Certified Media Specialist with a Master's Degree, meaning another high-salaried position, according to Chalstrom.
A mixed blessing the District also faces in the near future is the fact there are increased numbers of first and second graders at Roosevelt Elementary, which probably will force the District into adding a section for each grade.
"It's a good problem to have," noted Chalstrom. "The increased enrollment is great, but having to add sections to better accommodate them means more positions to be filled and additional wages paid."
Chalstrom was quick to laud present and past Boards and Administrators for being good stewards of the District's money. "We have good solvency. We've been prudent in the past. Our unspent balance and cash balance are extremely healthy," noted Chalstrom.
Chalstrom said the best scenario for the District, moving forward, is a stable, increased enrollment and negligible inflation.