When they return to school in August, Winslow High School students are going to have to pack a lunch or eat from the cafeteria since they will no longer be allowed to leave campus.
On May 18, the Winslow Unified School District Governing Board unanimously approved Principal Doug Watson’s proposal to close the campus once the school day begins.
Watson said the action would cut down on tardiness and disciplinary problems outside of the school. Some people in the community — especially the students — have not received the idea with open arms, but Watson said it’s an idea whose time has come.
“We have the opportunity to reflect on why we do what we do. So why do we have one hour for lunch? That decision happened before many of us were born,” he told the Board. “It was a very different time from this one.”
Chartwells, which provides the food for the district, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs dormitory told Watson that they support the change in policy. The Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT) also agreed to work its classes into a new schedule.
Board member Royce Greer said he was never in favor of a closed campus until about five years ago when Junior High School Principal Jim MacLean went to the Board with a proposal to close the junior high campus.
“We saw immediately the success at the junior high overnight,” Greer said.
MacLean told the Board that within the first year of the closed campus, truancies dropped and complaints from businesses ceased. He also said the change was one of the factors that has led the junior high to be named a Highly Performing School by the Arizona Department of Education.
One idea that had been discussed was instituting the closed campus on a one-year trial basis. Greer said the Board’s decision is now policy but that they could change it if it doesn’t have the desired effect.
“There are always going to be some loose ends that need to be trimmed off but the main thing is to get the kids in, get them fed, and get the lunch time taken care of and get them back in the classroom,” he said.
Watson said the new schedule for lunches and classes is not completely set, but in the proposed schedule all gates are open until 8:10 a.m. At that time, all but the main gate and one side gate for students to access the Industrial Arts Building would close. Watson said the gates would not be manned but could still be monitored.
There would be just three lunch periods, each about 30 minutes long. Parents could still sign their children out for lunch. The school day would end a half hour earlier at 2 p.m.
The new schedule favors seniors who are on track to graduate. They could be done with classes by 12:41 p.m. allowing more time for extracurricular activities and jobs.
Supt. Bob Mansell said the changes at the high school would also affect the elementary schools. The changes would allow the district to consolidate bus routes giving the drivers more hours to work. To coincide with the new routes, the three elementary schools would begin 20 minutes earlier at 8:40 a.m. The school day would end at 3:10 p.m. The junior high schedule would be unaffected.
No parents, students, community residents or faculty, other than Watson and MacLean, spoke at the meeting about the closed campus.
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