2009-07-04 / News

Is head lice policy nitpicking?

By Scott Rawdon

MILLERSPORT- Every school district has cases of head lice, regardless of income or location, said Walnut Township School District Superintendent Ron Thornton.

"It's more of a clean thing than a dirty thing," he said. "It's just something to get rid of." Conventional wisdom dictated that any student with evidence of head lice should be sent home immediately to keep it from spreading. However, that policy may be nitpicking, said Thornton. During Monday night's Walnut Township School Board meeting, Thornton said new evidence shows that as long as head lice is being treated and only in the stage of nits, or lice eggs, students don't need to be sent home because the eggs are dead and not contagious to other students. "Think about it," he said.

Thornton said as unpleasant the prospect of having nits is, as long as they're being treated there's no reason for students to miss weeks of classes, as is entirely possible in some cases of head lice. He asked board members to consider policy changes.

In other school board news:

• Thornton also asked board members to consider offering credit flexibility for some programs, like physical education. If a student is heavily involved in extracurricular sports, those activities could count toward physical education credits, leaving the student free to pursue other subjects during the formal school day. Likewise, if a student spends a summer abroad, those experiences could be counted toward history credits. This is only at the high school. Board members will consider the proposal at their July meeting.

• Board members accepted Millersport Elementary School Principal Cheryl Thompson's resignation "with regrets." Thornton said Thompson fulfilled her contractual obligations with the district and decided to move to the Carolinas. "She's a hard working lady," said Thornton. Thompson was principal for three years.

Former Millersport Elementary School Principal Angela Harrison was hired for a threeyear contract as Thompson's replacement. She was principal from 2002 to 2006.

Thornton said Harrison spent the last three years at Amanda and has become "a sought-out type principal." He said he interviewed three others for the position, but Harrison was clearly the best qualified, particularly considering her previous experience with the district.

The board also accepted Title I reading Tutor Saundra Hanson's resignation "with regrets." Thornton said she's "ready to be a grandmother."

• Construction on the new running track "hit a snag," said Thornton, but it should still be open by August 1. He said contractors found a ground water source beneath the track that must be addressed to ensure a stable foundation. "There may have been an old pond there," he said. Construction on the project's rest rooms may also be delayed because some of the materials are currently expensive. The rest rooms may not be open for the first several games.

• Thornton said the district has an opportunity to change all its internal lights to energy saving, environmentally friendly bulbs for a good price, which will save the district money in the long run. He said the existing bulbs can be replaced for $52,000; AEP would reimburse the district $21,000 of that total. He estimates the new bulbs could save the district $16,000 per year in energy costs, meaning the new bulbs will pay for themselves in 1.4 years. "The rest is profit," said Thornton.

• The school's kindergarten through sixth grade workbook and supply fee will remain $30 per student even though the supplies really cost $43, but Thornton said he wouldn't feel right raising the fee.

• The board approved entering into a contract with HR Imaging Partners of Delaware, Ohio to provide school pictures this coming school year. Board member Vince Popo objected, saying he was unhappy with the company's past work. Millersport High School Principal Charles Leedle said HR Imaging's work improved. The remaining board members approved re-hiring HR Imaging.

• Thornton said voter approval of an expiring emergency levy in November is critical and a committee must address it. "We're on a banana peel right now," he said.

Return to top