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Committee to consider new cell phone policy

Date: 4/12/2013

By Aubri Bailly

CHICOPEE — The Chicopee Student Advisory Council pitched their new cell phone policy asking to allow cell phones to be allowed during designated lunch times.

The Council asked the School Committee at its April 3 meeting to allow a trial period where cell phone use would be allowed during designated lunch times.

"We're trying to write a policy that is effective and can be enforced," Student Advisory Council President Brianna Gardiner said.

The Council sent out an email survey to all teachers in both Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School. Eight-one percent responded. Of those teachers, 90 percent agreed that the current policy is not working and that they have to ask students to put their phones away on an average five to eight times per day.

The current cell phone policy states that cell phones are strictly prohibited during school hours.

"I wouldn't be opposed to trying a trial during the lunch period. I would be willing to discuss with my high school principals and vice principals to try a trial," Superintendent Richard Rege stated.

Though a majority of the School Committee seemed to be for the cell phone policy change, concerns were mentioned.

"If we change the policy, what's going to make [the teachers] want to enforce it more than they already are?" School Committee member Donald Lamothe challenged.

Other School Committee member Mary Elizabeth Pniak-Costello mentioned that there have been studies saying that it's good for students not to have cell phones during school as it makes less distracted in the classroom.

Each of the council members spoke to other schools in the area that have changed their cell phone policy to allow cell phone use during lunch over the past few years. Each of the schools stated that the change in policy has decreased the number of phone violations.

"If we change the policy, we can always change it back if it doesn't work," School Committee member Adam Lamontagne said.

Lamontagne ended the topic by motioning to refer the drafted policy into policy subcommittee. The motion passed unanimously.

If this policy goes into effect, as of Sept. 3 through Dec. 19, both high schools will be participating in the trial period.