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Southmoreland discusses policy revisions

| Friday, March 2, 2001

SCOTTDALE - Policy revisions, particularly that of tobacco use, were discussed Thursday night during Southmoreland Area School Board's planning session.

Because of Act 128, a bill on school tobacco control passed by the state late in 2000, the board has two options concerning the use of tobacco on school property, according to Superintendent John Kenney. They can either vote to prohibit the use of any form of tobacco by employees and the public on school property at any time, or designate a smoking area for employees and the public 50 feet away from any school buildings or bleachers.

The policy that is currently in place has a designated area outside of the building for employees and the public to smoke.

'I don't like to criminalize it (smoking), but it's going to be very hard to enforce the 50-foot rule,' said Kenney.

He also added that events held at the stadium would be the most difficult to enforce on the public since there's not really a place 50 feet away from the stadium or any school building without leaving the game area.

Director Rhonda Hamrock said that banning any type of tobacco use altogether probably would not upset current smokers that much because they're used to it.

'We're one of the few school districts that actually allow smoking on school property,' she said.

Director Blaine Barclay said that the board had to give someone addicted to smoking a chance to smoke and Director Levi Miller agreed with him to a point.

'To me, it's a trade-off,' said Miller. 'Part of the American system allows a great amount of individual freedoms, and if someone smoked on top of a hill, I could care less.

'I identify with Blaine wanting to give them 50 feet, but if it's too hard to govern or rule, then maybe we better not,' he said.

As for the students, the district's discipline code states that they can neither possess nor use any form of tobacco on school property. But the policy fails to negate the possession of tobacco.

The board will vote at the next scheduled monthly meeting as to its decision concerning the policy.

Another policy the board will decide whether or not to post is that concerning hazing.

According to Kenney, the school district has never had a hazing policy or any incidents of hazing.

Board members will also decide whether or not to join the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools for the 2001-02 school year for the price of $650. There are currently 170 schools in Pennsylvania that are currently part of the program.

Kenney informed the board about the benefits of joining a consortium to enter into a contract with Pepsi. The consortium would offer the school district $20-$25 per student a year, which would be $61,000 a year for 10 years.

'We're not obligated to buy any more machines or do any promoting,' said Kenney. 'We would do everything the same as we're doing now except we would decide whether to have an exclusive vendor or not.'

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