District addresses bullying issue
By Katie Zerr –
The Mobridge–Pollock School Board on Monday, Nov. 12 heard administrators report on a comprehensive plan to battle a bullying problem that has surfaced at the district’s schools.
Superintendent Tim Frederick, Middle School Principal Joe Lenz and High School Principal Andrew Overland told the board the staff and the students of the schools were already involved in awareness and anti-bullying projects.
Frederick told the board a meeting, which was well-attended, had been held with parents and there had been a good exchange of information. He said the group discussed how school staff and parents could move forward to develop a “homegrown” program to help everyone involved recognize how serious bullying is. The group is currently creating a parent advisory committee for each of the three school buildings. He said this was necessary because the bullying issue is different at all three levels.
Current efforts are being made to gather information from surveys of parents, teachers and students as a basis of plans to combat the problem.
“We are addressing what the needs are to learn about the problem, to be able to recognize it,” he told the board. “We are surveying the student body, making maps of the schools that show the reported hot spots where this is occurring.”
He said there are areas in the buildings and on the campus where the actions can happen that are out of the sight of an adult. The surveys will help find these areas, which then will be targeted by adults.
Frederick told the board many resources are being used to make contact with students and parents in order to have conversations concerning the problem. Policy and discipline processes are also being outlined to the students and parents.
Lenz told the board students in the seventh grade created a power point presentation about bullying and presented it to the third, fourth and fifth-graders. A group of eighth-graders created a video, which has been submitted to a national competition. Both the power point presentation and the video have been shown on channel 19 of the area cable system.
The sixth-graders have been performing bullying scripts in a reader’s theater format to the third through fifth-grade classes. The middle school students have also started an after school anti-bullying club and created a website that can be viewed at http://abctigers.weebly.com.
Overland reported the oral interp team will present several skits involving bullying and harassment scenarios to the middle and high school students. The skits will depict different types of bullying, and include question and answer sessions between each skit. The skits will be presented next week.
“We have taken big steps to help our students, but we as parents have a lot more to do at home,” Frederick told the group. “This is a community problem, a social issue. We as a school will do what we can to educate others about this situation.”
Frederick told the board the finance and technology committees have met and the district is ready to move forward with purchasing the 21st Century learning tools.
The purchase recommendations have been included in the 2012-2013 budget for the pilot programs.
The technology items to be purchased for the middle school include 14 iPads. This includes Apple Care, Power Sync Try, Voume Voucher, Apple TV, a video converter, media bridge ultra series and protective covers.
For the Freeman Davis and the Upper Elementary School, 11 iPads with the same accessories will be purchased as well as nine interactive projectors for the district and four laptop computers for the high school.
“In the future when we designate funds for curriculum we must look where we can make updates in technology,” said Frederick. “We can make updated programs and applications each year, but with books those are long-term purchases.”
Lenz told the board the idea was to start small.
“We don’t want to dump these iPads on the teachers and say go to work,” he said. “We want to start small and work out the bugs and work on safety issues.”
The iPads will be rotated between teachers and classes in order for all students to receive the benefits.
The principals told the board the number of students attending the three schools has changed since the opening of school.
Elementary principal Jill Olson informed the board there are five new elementary students in the district through October. There are 66 kindergarteners; 60 first-graders; 44 second-graders; 53 third-graders; and 51 fourth-graders.
She reported the focus on attendance has been very positive and after handing out certificates for perfect attendance in the first quarter, they did not have enough certificates for the rest of the year.
In the middles school, there are 10 new students enrolled in the past two months, reported Lenz.
He said the students have been dispersed among the three grades. There are 170 students in the middle school including, 47 sixth-graders; 66 seventh-graders and 57 eighth-graders.
In the high school, three students have left the school since the beginning of classes. Overland reported there are 45 students in the ninth grade; 51 sophomores; 47 juniors and 43 seniors for a total of 186 students.