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For the week of May 7 - 13, 2003

News

Should students have to eat lunch on campus?


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Where do your school children go for lunch? Do they leave or stay on campus. And what does open closed campus mean exactly?

In the case of the new Wood River High School, it could mean the students would not be able to leave campus for lunch. Currently, students can be found busily snapping up salads and sandwiches at the grocery stores, Snow Bunny and other convenient locations in Hailey.

Is this a bad thing?

Well, the problems seem to arise when kids, in a hurry to get back to campus before the bell rings, drive too fast on side streets. Or, if they donít speed, thereís the possibility theyíll be late getting back to classes.

"They look ahead at a four-way stop and go through it," one parent in the Deerfield subdivision said. "Itís a quick run through Deerfield. Itís teenagers not paying much attention. There could be little kids running out at any minute."

Complaints about speeding do mostly come from homeowners in Deerfield, Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said.

"Itís slowed down a bit this year compared to years past." He speculated that it might be due to people growing used to the situation or citations being issued.

"It may shift problems from lunch to after school. I donít know," McNary said. "Our position is Iím okay with whatever the school district decides."

According to several students, being off campus and a part of the town is healthy. Connections are made that otherwise might not occur. They feel trusted, spend money in Hailey and let off steam away from school.

However, WRHS encompasses 97 acres. A student can walk a quarter mile in any direction and still be on campus, said Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis.

The district had an obligation to revisit the issue, Lewis said. Six years ago when first brought up by a neighborhood watch committee, the issue was set aside because the kitchen and cafeteria in the high school couldnít handle that many lunches.

"We said weíd revisit if and when we have the facility. Now, with the new facility (in the new high school that opens next fall), we do," Lewis said.

In asking the community for input, several issues are cited: safety for kids leaving campus, safety of the neighborhoods and attendance.

Another more subtle issue is the influence of older kids who may draw younger kids off campus, Lewis said.

There has been no decision by the committee as yet. Its job is to hear testimony, do research and figure out options, Lewis said.

The committee is made up of various groups: Representatives from each school district zone, excluding Carey, were nominated by board members, school administrators, teachers, students representatives from each class, city police and the schoolís resource officer and a cross section of parents.

"Weíre listening to police, school food service, and residents of the exact communities. There is plenty of opportunity for input," Lewis said.

Closing the campus entirely is only one of the options that the committee will consider. The campus could also be partly closed to all but seniors who have earned the privilege of leaving.

"Or leave as is and live with consequences," Lewis said.

He expects a recommendation to be made to the school board in June.

An open forum was held to discuss the issue at WRHS last week and another is scheduled for Monday, May 12, at 7 p.m. at Hemingway Elementary in Ketchum. The public is encouraged to participate.

 

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