Monday, September 26, 2005
The Steamboat Springs School District now has legally up-to-date policies about what materials students and adults can distribute at schools.
The two policies passed by a 4 to 1 vote Monday night, with School Board member Jeff Troeger voting against each policy.
The School Board unanimously passed a resolution supporting Referendums C and D, citing that the referendums are keys to preventing large funding cuts at the state level to K-12 education. "I think it's imperative that we support a resolution to support Referenda C and D," School Board President Paula Stephenson said. "It's first and foremost what our job is about -- fiscal responsibility."
The School Board learned that the committee to examine graduation requirements had been assembled, and it appointed School Board member Jeff Troeger to serve on that committee as a representative of the School Board. The committee includes administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members. The first meeting of the committee is at 6:30 p.m. today in the George P. Sauer Human Services Center. All meetings are open to the public.
The School Board accepted an $11,000 gift from the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board for additional training on technology.
One policy for distribution of noncurricular materials is for students, and the second is for nonstudents. Both groups are allowed to distribute acceptable materials at designated places inside or outside of schools, within guidelines.
Troeger worried that allowing adults to distribute religious materials at schools overstepped the boundary of separation of church and state. He then asked the School Board to vote down the policy and not allow adults in or around schools to hand out noncurricular materials because of security issues.
"We're still allowing all sorts of folks ... (to) come in and be with our students, and that bothers me," he said.
He preferred having activities fairs in which adults could come to the schools once or twice a year, or having a central bulletin board for postings, instead of allowing adults to spend time in and around schools on a regular basis.
School Board President Paula Stephenson said that in Colorado, rural communities tend to be more open to allowing adults to distribute materials in and around schools.
"I absolutely believe that we need to allow access to certain groups," she said.
School Board member Pat Gleason also said that access should be allowed, because schools are public facilities. He thought that, contrary to the policy that was finally approved, adults should be allowed inside the middle school -- not just outside -- for a certain period before and after school, similar to the high school's policy.
School Board members spent less time discussing the policy allowing students to post noncurricular materials. Troeger said he thought there should be some sort of mechanism to make sure students don't post inappropriate materials, but legally, schools cannot require an advance copy of what will be posted.
Before voting on the policies, School Board members asked the school district's attorney, Richard Lyons, questions through a conference call.
Lyons said it is traditional for schools to have limited open expression, allowing students as well as adult representatives of community organizations, including Boy Scouts and 4-H, to distribute information about activities.
But allowing limited open expression means a school district must treat all groups and expressions equally.
The revised policy allows people who aren't students to distribute noncurricular, appropriate materials at designated places inside the high school and at designated places outside elementary and middle schools. That can take place a half-hour before and after classes at all schools and during lunch at the high school.
The proposed policy for students is similar to that for nonstudents, but students at all the schools can distribute appropriate materials in schools in designated places and during lunch.
The school district's original policy was adopted in 1987. It has come under fire several times during the past few years.