School Board allows cell phones, holds off on consortium decision


Oct. 16, 2001, midnight | By Joe Howley | 19 years, 8 months ago


The Montgomery County Board of Education today voted to hold off for a year on making a decision about the Downcounty Consortium and to allow students limited possession of cell phones in school.

Under new regulations, middle-schoolers may apply for waivers allowing them to have such devices, and high school students may have these devices in school as long as they are turned off and out of sight during the instructional school day.

The Board discussed at length the proposed Consortium and what one Board member called the ”onerous task” of developing and implementing it. Though a consensus seemed to be reached that the Consortium was a necessary idea and had support from the community, the proposal voted on today put off the specific decisions on the matter for another year.

Both resolutions passed unanimously.

The Board's confidence in community support for the Consortium seems at odds with the fact that today's proposal was not available to Blair principal Philip Gainous until today. The director of the consotrium effort, Walt Gibson, said that he was very interested in getting feedback from the community and from students after hearing Blair seniors Miriam Sievers and Annie Welch speak at the Board's public comment session earlier today.

Student Member of the Board Dustin Jeter propsed an amendment to the resolution increasing the time for a principal to be chosen for the soon-to-open Northwood High School to ensure that the community could be a part of the decision, but Superintendent Jerry Weast rejected the idea for the time being, citing budget concerns.

The Downcounty Consortium would tie together Kennedy, Wheaton, Einstein, and Blair high schools, as well as Northwood, when it opens. Each school would be given a signature program which students in any other school in the consortium could choose to attend. Gibson said Blair would need several such signatures to deal with its significantly larger population, and mentioned the idea of expanding Blair's Communications Arts Program and Math, Science, and Computer Science Magnet to reach ”deeper into the student body.”

Blair has also proposed as a signature an entrepreneurial studies program.



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Joe Howley. Joe Howley is a senior at Blair in the Communication Arts Program. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Online division of Chips and shares the Graphics Editorship with the infamous Brandon Proia. He is resigned to being a hopeless computer "geek," and is already an object … More »

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