Bibb School Board considers prohibiting students’ use of cell phones, personal electronics in school

The Bibb County Board of Education is set to change a policy allowing students to use cell phones and other personally owned electronic devices at school.

The new policy would prohibit use of personal devices for most students with a few exceptions: students who have permission from the superintendent or designee, students who submit a doctor’s note documenting a health issue requiring use of a device and students whose individual education plan specifies use of a device.

The policy is set to be read publicly for the first time at Thursday’s regular board meeting. Stakeholders will have 30 days to submit input before a second reading and potential adoption.

The Macon Newsroom reported last month that the board was considering changes to the policy that has been in effect since 2018. At the March board meeting, Board Member At-Large Daryl Morton voiced concerns about an incident in which a student recorded a video of a teacher being physically assaulted by another student. The video was circulated on Facebook and Morton said it was embarrassing for the teacher.

Morton said he questioned the need for students to be permitted to bring their own devices now that every student has a district-issued computer.

In other business, the board is set to consider changing its policy on outside groups’ use of the school district’s facilities.

A draft of the policy revision gives the superintendent power to regulate the process. The new rules, if approved, would require a written agreement for use of the facilities, set time limits for use and allow the district charge full price in the case of last-minute reservation cancellations. The new rules would also require the district to be provided a copy of a group’s nonprofit certificate or organization’s financial statement before any agreements are finalized. A new fee schedule to be created by the Capital Programs Department would establish costs for different types of facilities and organizations wanting to use them.

Nonprofit organizations would be charged $50, which covers the cost of insurance required by state law and the cost for a district employee to open and close the facility. Private individuals or companies will be subject to the fee schedule plus the $50 charge.

Also Thursday, the board is set to announce names of finalists for school superintendent.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the following is set for board approval:

  • The purchase of a Mobile Food Truck Learning Lab from Indiana-based Delivery Concepts Inc. for $240,845 in American Rescue Plan CTAE money. The truck will serve as a work-based learning classroom for students enrolled in the culinary arts program.
  • iReady mathematics program from Massachusetts-based Curriculum Associates LLC for no more than $460,900 in American Rescue Plan money. The math program is to help students address standards and skills not mastered.
  • Wonders Practice Books from Ohio-based McGraw-Hill LLC for $155,520.62.
  • Voyager Passport intervention reading curriculum from Texas-based Lexia Voyager Sopris Inc. for $290,150 in general funds. The program consists of 45-minute daily reading lessons with a focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary.
  • MicrosoftEDU Office Pro Plus renewal from DELL for $318,431.49.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, email [email protected] or call 478-301-5777.