Starting Jan. 1, several Calcasieu Parish public high schools will join in a pilot program that will let students bring their cell phones on campus and use them inside classrooms.
At Tuesday's meeting, Calcasieu School Board members received detailed plans on how the "Bring Your Own Device" program will be rolled out at A.M. Barbe, LaGrange, Washington-Marion, Sulphur, Starks, DeQuincy, Westlake and Iowa high schools.
Sam Houston High School implemented the program earlier this year. Principal Shannon Foolkes told board members in October that it has successfully kept students engaged and cut disturbances in the classroom.
"Learning is taking place here," she said in a video describing the program. "Give the teachers freedom to teach and use that technology to their advantage. The world is at our fingertips now."
Sam Houston uses a traffic light system to tell students when they can use their phones. A red light means cell phones must be face down on a student's desk when they aren't being used for classroom purposes.
The board also unanimously approved revisions to its policy on student fees, fines and charges.
Fee amounts are listed for supplies in grades 9-12 in English, history, math, science, fine arts, agriculture, band, photography, foreign language and other classes.
Fees are also listed for supplies in various courses in grades 6-8, as well as kindergarten through fifth grade.
Requests for supplies cannot exceed $15 at schools with grades kindergarten through fifth; $25 for grades 6-8; and $45 for grades 9-12.
The revised policy also includes an example of a request to waive fees for students experiencing economic hardships. The term "electronic devices" was also added to a section that explains penalties for damages to textbooks or instructional materials.
Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said they will post a notice on the School Board's website and on social media for those wanting to fill the unexpired term of the District 5 seat, currently held by Ron Hayes. Hayes was elected to the Calcasieu Police Jury's District 6 seat in the Nov. 16 runoff.
Letters of intent and résumés will be accepted through Jan. 7. Applicants must live within District 5 for at least one year, be 18 or older, and be a Louisiana resident for at least two years.
The board is expected to choose an applicant at its Jan. 14 regular meeting, Bruchhaus said. An election to permanently fill the vacancy is set for the fall of 2020.
The board presented a plaque to Hayes, who said he "will always be very loyal and supportive" of the School Board.
Later in the meeting, the board approved District 6 Board member Dean Roberts as its president for 2020. District 13 Board member Billy Breaux was named vice president.