Board allows cellphones into Zachary High School

Students at Zachary High School will be allowed to bring cellphones into the building beginning in the 2013-14 school year.

The Zachary Community School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve an amendment to the student handbook stating that students may bring phones or other electronic communication devices to school but may not use them unless authorized by the principal.

“We did this because they all have them anyway,” Superintendent Scott Devillier said.

During school hours, phones must be “turned off and out of sight,” he said.

He added that teachers can use the devices in the classroom with the approval of the administration.

“We need to teach students how to use phones properly,” he said.

Devillier gave an example in which science teachers would allow students to use cellphone cameras to take pictures of items under microscopes.

A policy forbidding students to have cellphones in elementary and middle schools will remain in force.

Other business before the board included:

COPPER MILL: The board voted unanimously to accept a budget estimate of $5 million for additions at Copper Mill Elementary School that will be designed by the Bani, Carville & Brown architectural firm.

The proposed improvements include a gym with restrooms and dressing rooms as well as classrooms for art, music practice, community-based education, special education and a computer lab. Outdoor basketball courts, new sidewalks and additional parking also are included in the estimate.

LUNCH PRICES: The adult lunch price in Zachary schools will rise from $3.35 to $3.50 in 2013-14. The board voted unanimously in favor of the increase, which coincides with expected meal cost increases, child nutrition specialist Helen Folks said.

LIQUIDATED DAMAGES: The board voted unanimously to assess liquidated damages of $61,000 against Guy Hopkins Construction Co. for being 61 days late in completing the performing arts theater at Zachary High School.

NEW BUDGET: The board voted unanimously to approve its 2013-14 budget. Projected revenues and expenditures will be $54 million, finance director Gordon Robertson said. Last year’s budget was $52 million and the school district ended the year with a general fund balance of $22 million.

DEVILLIER EVALUATION: Devillier received a grade of 3.04 on a 4-point scale for his first year of service. Devillier began as superintendent in November.

“A 4 is when you have reached the top and can’t get any better. We are all working to be a 4,” he said.