E-cigs, vaping now officially banned at Mt. Vernon School District

Tressie Casey

Policy updated to reflect broader restriction on tobacco products, controversial electronic cigarettes
The Mt. Vernon Board of Education recently revised the district’s tobacco policies during the board’s Sept. 19 meeting. The handbooks have now been updated to clarify the policies for electronic cigarettes.
The new policy states: “This includes the use or possession of electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, or any other device used to vaporize substances for inhalation and the paraphernalia associated with said devices.”
“It’s an epidemic in our country right now and we are not immune to that,” said Superintendent Scott Cook. “At the middle school level there has been a large number of violations and at the high school level there are probably even more.”
Nicotine and tobacco is not a specific enough term to categorize vaporizers under anymore, due to it not being the only substance or stimulant that could possibly be in an electronic cigarette or inhalation device. It has been about three years since a cigarette has been confiscated and all of the current violations have been with electronic cigarettes and vaporizers.
In other business, Mt. Vernon music teacher Jane Phillips gave a report on the Mt. Vernon Intermediate School Honor Choir. Philips started the after-school program three years ago and currently there are 50 students participating. She brought along some of the honor choir members and the students demonstrated some warm-up exercises along with singing the Mt. Vernon Alma Mater song. Each student got the opportunity to speak to the board and all students made remarks about how important honor choir is to them.
The board also approved changes to the board policies for professional and support staff short-term and long-term leaves. In the past, all eligible employees were paid $10 per day for unused leave with a maximum payment of $100 per year. When retiring or leaving the district they were paid $10 per day for accumulated sick leave pay. These rates were not very competitive with other districts and the board approved an updated policy.
 The new rates for professional staff will be $40 per day for unused leave with the maximum accumulation of 100 days. Probationary teachers will be reimbursed: $20 per day if resignation letter is submitted before January board meeting; $15 per day if resignation letter is submitted before February board meeting; and $10 per day if resignation letter is submitted any time after the February board meeting.
Superintendent Scott Cook also gave an enrollment data report. Currently, Mt. Vernon schools have 1,407 students. This number is down a total of 18 students from this time last year. Over the last 15 years, there has been a gradual decline in the number of students.
The board also approved the budget for 2019-2020. The budget will reflect the following provisions: fully fund the salary schedule and allowance for incremental movement based on experience and education, in addition there will be $250 base salary on the professional staff salary schedule, .76 percent will be added onto the base rate on all support staff salary schedule, 2.76 percent will be added for employees not connected to a salary schedule; sustain a strong educational technology program; increases to operation/construction budget to replace outdated HVAC equipment and maintain buildings and grounds; support for a high-quality professional development program; funding for health insurance premiums at $481.90 per employee with a $25.54 incentive for participating in the district wellness program; funding the local STEPS program for teachers who provide tutoring and services beyond contract duties.
The next board of education meeting will be held Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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