School Board holds off new program to prevent bullyingA newly-elected member of the Jamestown Public School Board motioned that the district should immediately adopt and implement a bullying-prevention program at Monday’s meeting.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A newly-elected member of the Jamestown Public School Board motioned that the district should immediately adopt and implement a bullying-prevention program at Monday’s meeting.
Roger Haut motioned that the district should adopt the Olweus Program at a cost he estimated to be around $20,000. An Olweus pilot program will start this school year at Lincoln Elementary.
“It is a renowned program and I think putting it in one school is labeling that school,” Haut said. “Also, bullying is a district-wide program, it is not a localized one.”
Haut said data from the youth behavior risk survey shows that in Jamestown Middle School 50 percent of the students are being bullied.
“Half our kids are bullied, what kind of safe environment are we creating for our kids there?” he said.
Haut also asked what program the district has in place to be compliant with North Dakota Century Code.
“We have programs right now, we’re doing things right now,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso. “That’s why I asked the administrators to put their plans and booklets together; they’re going to be looking at new activities this fall as well.”
School Board member Gail Martin agreed that work was currently being done in the district to combat bullying.
“The other issue I want to verify for the board and the community — we are not not doing anything,” Martin said. “We have a program.…”
Several members of the board wanted to see more information, like the entire cost after training and materials, and what would happen to current bullying-prevention programs.
“I’d just like more information on cost and staff impacts,” said board member Heidi Larson.
Toso had other concerns like training teachers, because the professional development days are all spoken for. He also didn’t want to force a program on district administrators.
“I like to work by consensus with my administrative staff,” Toso said.
The district will take the first step of implementation of the Olweus Program by surveying the student body about four weeks into the school year.
The board will also revisit the issue at the first September meeting, when more data has been gathered and administrators report what their schools are doing to combat bullying.
The motion was eventually voted down 6-2 with board members Tanya Ostlie, Shelly Jystad, Terry Anderson, Diane Hanson, Larson and Martin opposed and Roy Musland and Haut in favor. Greg Allen was absent.
In other news the board approved rehiring Joe Hegland — not in his former job, middle school principal, but as curriculum and professional development director.
Previously this was done by Dave Saxberg, who recently left the district for Bismarck.
“To be honest we didn’t feel like we wanted to go with anyone else,” Toso said. “Because with Joe, we know him, we’re very comfortable there.”
Hegland will work at a 0.4 FTE for $40,000 for the 2012-2013 school year.
Hiring Hegland and having one principal work at two schools elementary schools will save the district about $60,000 Toso said.
The board also heard from Beth Ryan, a Jamestown College sophomore and community coordinator for Communities Mobilizing for Change of Alcohol.
Unlike Students Against Destructive Decisions, CMCA will work with public policy.
“The reason you haven’t heard about this program so far is that we are in the opening stage,” Ryan said.
She is currently surveying community members for data before looking at policies.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org