By Bob Weaver

Safety, security and student behavior was on the minds of Calhoun School Board members at Monday's meeting.

Board member Joy Starcher suggested the board spend extra time studying state and county policies. Superintendent Ron Blankenship said he would accommodate such efforts.

Board President Lee Evans said he was concerned about safety and security issues, "even here in Calhoun County," after which the board agreed that safety and security policies would be reviewed.

Board member Steve Whited clarified that criminal background checks are done on school employees before they are hired.

Linda Jarvis reported on the initiative in Calhoun Middle School to improve student behavior. The Respect and Protect Program was started in September.

BIF, or Behavior Intervention Forms, are issued when inappropriate conduct occurs. Students are rewarded for good behavior.

Jarvis said the program has continued to make a marked difference with students who frequently present problems in grades 5-8, indicating students with problems represents about 5% in each grade level.

Jarvis said "The best part, I'm teaching again."

CM-HS principal Karen Kirby said "The program has helped teachers stay on the same page," with special meetings conducted at least every two weeks.

"We're not going to allow a few students to disturb the learning of others," Kirby said.

Jarvis said several students have reported "They found strength in keeping control during a conflict."

Behavior is now being listed on report cards.

Students were asked to evaluate the new program and responded anonymously by typing their comments.

An eighth grade student offered a frequent comment, "It is fair in some ways," but declared they did not like to take planners home to their parents.

Jarvis said comments were obtained from grades 6 through 8, including these samples:

"I don't find the program unfair, but there is nothing I like about the program. You need to let us be teenagers." wrote another eighth grader.

"I understand that they want a violence-free atmosphere, but some things we get in trouble for isn't right."

"I like the Respect and Protect Program because you spend more time in class and not in detention. Thank you for protecting our school."

"My mom WILL NOT sign (program form), she thinks it's stupid, just like me...Kids don't care if they get one (BIF) or not."

"It helps people out of trouble."

"I think the BIF forms are ***** because they take our privileges to the fun things."

"When kids get in a lot of trouble, parents learn how they act..."

"I think it is good because there is not as much fighting as last year..."


The American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association have just released results of the study, called "Discipline Without Delay."

The three-day phone survey backs several initiatives the two unions plan to address during the WV Legislative session starting Wednesday.

Proposals include an increased number of school aides and tighter incident reporting.

Bob Brown, executive secretary of the WVSPPA, said his group is looking at lots of data.

Of the 475 respondents to the public survey, 34 percent cited school safety as their main concern, 19 percent questioned the state of academics, 22 percent named a hodge-podge of issues, and 12 percent said they worry about administration.

83 percent said classroom discipline needs revamping.

The poll suggests perceptions about school violence with general bullying.

"We cannot allow bullies and other disruptive students to rule our schools," said Judy Hale of the American Federation of Teachers.