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School board bans E-Cigs

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By Kenny Colston

The use of electronic cigarettes, hookahs and other vapor products for tobacco are now banned on Oldham County Schools property, after the school board approved a policy change at its monthly meeting.

The board was presented with the potential policy change at its April board meeting. At that time, OCS general counsel Anne Coorssen called the policy change “substantial” while noting the use of e-cigarettes and other vapor products for tobacco usage was increasing.

“They are commonly used in school and they are currently not regulated,” she said. “It’s been suggested recently that kids under 18 shouldn’t have it, so we don’t think our students should be using it.”

Previously, board chair Joyce Fletcher noted the use of such devices had doubled in OCS and many school principals pushed for the inclusion of vapor products in the district’s ban on tobacco usage.

The board approved the ban 5-0 without much discussion.

Tentative budget approved

The board also approved a tentative budget for fiscal year 2015 at its meeting Monday.

The budget will be boosted by an increase of $702,000 in revenue based on preliminary PVA assessments, as well as a $929,000 increase in SEEK funding from the state. But the budget will also have a $1.8 million increase in expenses due to step raises and the state mandated one percent raise for teachers.

The budget also has a contingency of $6.3 million, which represents 7.5 percent of the budget, while the state only requires a 2 percent contingency. Superintendent Will Wells said the district is in better financial shape that previous years, but is hardly in great place.

“We’re in a much better place this time than we were last year financially,” Wells told the board. “The tax increase and cuts the last few years have helped.”

The increase in money from assessments is promising, Wells said, because it signifies growth in the county. And while there is an increase in SEEK funding, Fletcher said the district was “woefully underfunded” on the state level.

The board passed the tentative budget unanimously.

Fees increased

Lastly, the board approved a change in fees for next school year at the high school and middle school levels.

At the high school level, the fee per class for a foreign language will increase $5 to $25. There will also be a new daycare lab fee of $10 to help cover criminal and child abuse record checks.

But the biggest fee change is at the middle school level, where a $5 locker fee will now become a $20 instructional supplies/equipment fee.

East Oldham Middle School Principal Jim Ross told board members the locker fee was limiting to schools, because most lockers are in good shape and the only expense is new locks. But there are plenty of other expenses, including desks and general cleanliness for the school, Ross said, which is why he advocated for the fee change.

“We’ve used (the locker fee) for other needs,” he said.

The board approved the fee changes unanimously.

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.