New Trier revisits technology, donation and naming-rights policies
Cell phones are increasingly becoming a part of school life.
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:52AM
Recognizing the practical effects of changes in the economy and electronics, the New Trier Township High School Board plans to update its donation and technology policies.
District officials propose doing away with a separate policy for cellular phone use. The district currently has different rules for cellphone use at the Winnetka and Northfield campuses.
At Northfield, which is an all-freshmen campus, the policy requires students keep their “electronic communication devices” turned off and kept out of sight, such as in a purse or locker, during the school day.
“Two years ago, we started allowing the students at the Winnetka campus to have their phones on to text or access the Internet,” but not during class, said Timothy Dohrer, principal of the Winnetka campus. “With (students using) iPads and laptops, it just didn’t make sense to prohibit cellphones.”
As part of its review, the board policy committee determined that because cellular phones now incorporate video, calculators and other functions, their use should be covered under the general technology policy, New Trier Superintendent Linda Yonke said.
Cellular phone regulations will be the same at both campuses. Students can keep their phones with them. They are not allowed to use them for any purpose during class, without the permission of the teacher. Outside the classroom, they may use them to text, take pictures or access the Internet, but talking on a cellphone will be allowed only in the school lobby.
The revisions proposed for the technology policy include the statement: “Using technology and accessing the district’s network and Internet service are privileges, not rights,” which would be identical to wording in the policy governing the schools’ staff’s use of technology.
Students are prohibited from accessing, submitting, posting, publishing or creating “any defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, racially (or) religiously offensive, harassing, illegal or other material” that would be “unsuitable in the educational setting or unrelated to the district’s educational program.”
A more detailed list of the district’s “acceptable use” regulations is included in the student guidebook.
The regulations would apply to students’ and staff’s use not only of district-owned equipment, but also to their personal computing and communication devices, “including but not limited to cell phones, smart phones, tablets and laptops.”
District officials also are interested in expanding the rules for donations and naming opportunities.
The district currently allows programs and facilities to be named only for employees “who ha(ve) made a significant contribution to New Trier.”
The revised policy would allow facilities to be named after benefactors who contribute at least 50 percent of the project’s cost, as well as for individuals who have demonstrated meritorious service over a period of years. Anyone who has a “direct, substantial and active association with the district” could be eligible.
New Trier officials said in researching how other high schools and colleges handled sponsorships, donations and naming rights, they found a wide range, from schools that allowed no facilities to be named after donors to those that allow corporate logos and marketing on cafeteria trays, lockers and structural beams as a means of generating revenue.
Harvard University offers naming rights for bathroom stalls, said School Board member Peter Fischer. “These are prestigious schools with a long tradition doing much more than what we are considering.”
The revised policy would restate the goal that donations or advertising “never” influence instruction or the selection of vendors and products, nor appear to be a conflict of interest or an “endorsement of that company or donor’s beliefs.”
Teachers would not be discouraged from discussing a “company’s labor practices in China,” if it donated to the high school, Yonke said.
“We by no means want New Trier to be for sale,” Fisher said.
Board member F. Malcolm Harris wanted a clearer guideline on what size donation would merit naming recognition. Other board members said the policy was written to allow flexibility.
“If you are going to donate at least 50 percent of a large capital project, the board would consider naming the facility after an individual or corporation,” Fischer said.
“We are not going to do this for every room renovation,” Dolinko said. The terms in the policy “are not criteria that if met gets anybody anything automatically.”
The policy changes had their first reading at Monday’s School Board meeting. Voting on the revisions would take place at a future meeting.