MODESTO -- The Modesto City Schools board began beefing up its campus security and revised a policy to no longer require athletes and other students in some extracurricular activities to maintain good citizenship marks.
The board unanimously approved a proposal to create an Operations Department, Security Division, which would double the size of the district's security staff to four and begin the process of installing locks in the more than 2,000 classrooms that cannot be secured from the inside. The proposal, which is the first of two phases aimed at security, also addresses maintenance to existing locks, alarms and security cameras. The changes will cost the district about $1 million and come from routine restricted and general maintenance funds.
The board spent more than an hour discussing a proposal that would drop citizenship as a requirement for participation in athletics, student leadership and cheerleading.
Currently the district does not allow students with two or more unsatisfactory citizenship marks to participate in those activities. The marks are given out quarterly by teachers and can be appealed. They are based on everything from tardiness to turning in homework late, classroom behavior and dress code violations.
A committee determined that the policy adversely affected students in those extracurricular activities and recommended the change. Those activities now would be "co-curricular activities," meaning activities where students are enrolled in a class and receive a grade for them, and exempt participants from citizenship requirements.
Board members debated whether the change lowered district standards and sent a bad message.
The Gregori High School principal and associate principal spoke in favor of the changes, saying programs such as athletics are the best tools for teaching citizenship and keeping students out of trouble.
The policy passed unanimously as a pilot program to be reviewed in a year.
The board also discussed, although ultimately tabled, a revision to a policy allowing supplementary R-rated films and other materials to be seen in class. The changes to the policy, which already allows for such materials, made for stricter reviewing and a longer consideration window.
A last-minute change to include YouTube videos and other online video content halted the vote to allow for public review.
The debate raised emotions as trustee Cindy Marks teared up while reavowing her position that she believes no R-rated films should be shown in classrooms.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter: @turlocknow.