It's not easy starting a new job during a holiday week, but Arlington Public School's new superintendent is adjusting to her new role and already has a busy schedule.
Since taking over the reins from retiring superintendent Lynn Johnson, Dawn Lewis has met with officials from DRL Group about the district's facilities study, taking them on a tour of the building, being careful to avoid areas where summer maintenance projects, including the waxing of floors.
On Monday, Lewis, who comes to APS after serving as superintendent for the Arnold and Callaway school districts since 2015, attended her first board of education meeting.
The meeting included mostly housekeeping items, with several policies discussed and purchases, such as a new minivan, approved.
Among the policies discussed were updates to the tobacco, student discipline, drug and substance use and prevention and school discipline policies.
The updates to those policies, Lewis said, added language about electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes.
For example, the tobacco policy now says that the use of tobacco products is prohibited in all school buildings and all school vehicles. Smoking also is prohibited in any area where school staff, students or members of the public may be present or may be affected by smoke, including without limitation the stands and bleachers of outdoor athletic fields and near the entry of school buildings.
For purposes of this policy, tobacco includes, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, vapor products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, alternative nicotine products, tobacco product look-a-likes, and products intended to replicate tobacco products either by appearance or effect.
The policy, however, does not preclude adults from wearing non-visible nicotine patches, or using nicotine gum without displaying the product container, as part of a smoking cessation program.
In discussing the changes, Lewis said she'd prefer not having the word "nicotine" in the policy because it leads some to questions about how a vaping device is being used.
"I almost wish they would take out the word nicotine because you could have a kid who says there's not nicotine in my vape, it's just a water vapor with flavor, and some are putting other things in there now too," Lewis said.
Bruce Scheer asked if the word could be removed, but, Lewis believes it needs to be included in order for the district to be in compliance with state law.
In addition to the changes regarding electronic nicotine delivery systems, the school dances policy was updated extensively, Lewis said.
What was once two paragraphs is now two pages.
The policy outlines general rules of student conduct, including prohibited substances, such as alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery system.
According to the policy, anyone using the substances or showing the effects of use will not be allowed admission and if discovered after admission, be removed from the dance.
The policy also says that students and their dates may be required to submit to a breathalyzer prior to gaining entrance and those who choose not to submit to a breathalyzer will not gain entrance. Law enforcement will be contacted if there is reasonable suspicion that the student or a student’s date is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the policy says.
The policy also outlines rules for appropriate attire and eligibility for selection of the homecoming queen and king and prom king and queen.
The polices for school dances, tobacco, purchasing, procurement plan, wage information, admission requirements, military recruiter, student discipline, drug and substance use and prevention, curriculum assessments and family engagement will be up for discussion and possible approval at the board's Aug. 12 meeting.
Contract, purchases approved
In other business, the board of education approved a contract with Pave the Way to concrete cement the concourse at the baseball field. The cost is $22,500.
They also approved the purchase of a new mini van, not to exceed $22,564, from Gene Steffy Chrysler; a contract with Arbor Family Counseling Services for the 2019-20 school year at a cost of $8,680; and a contract with ProCare for an elementary special education teacher for the first semester of the 2019-20 school year. Lewis said the contract is for actual hours worked, billed at $60 per hour to ProCare. ProCare agrees to maintain general liability, workers compensation, professional liability and excess liability insurance.
The district, Lewis said, will be looking to hire a special education teacher for the second semester and, after talking with area colleges and universities, anticipates there will be a good pool of candidates from which to choose.