News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 13, 2014

VCSC Board convenes for 1st time of year

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — During its first meeting of 2014 Monday, the Vigo County School Board elected officers and again chose Paul Lockhart to serve as board president.

Alpa Patel was elected vice president, Tammy Pearson board secretary and Pat Sheehan deputy secretary.

Sheehan nominated Lockhart to again serve as president. “He is doing a great job,” Sheehan said.

Lockhart said “it’s truly an honor to serve on this board but also to serve as president.”

During the regular meeting, the board had little business on its agenda.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Superintendent Dan Tanoos told the board that the school district is working to revise current board policy so that use of electronic cigarettes would be prohibited on school grounds.

“We’ve had some challenges on it,” he said in an interview after the meeting. Some people have tried to use them on school grounds. The district has used other policies to stop the use of electronic cigarettes.

In May 2006, the school board did approve a policy banning tobacco use on school grounds.

Board policy needs to be revised to include e-cigarettes, Tanoos said.

Asked whether challenges have come from students or staff, Tanoos said, “It could be both.”

E-cigarettes are battery-operated products that heat liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.

Late last year, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and 39 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to place restrictions on the sale of electronic cigarettes. In a bipartisan letter, the attorneys general urged the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act.

In other matters, Tanoos told the board that he has requested a state waiver for all five days of school that were missed last week because of harsh winter weather.

The state Department of Education has indicated waivers will be granted only for Jan. 6 and 7 because of severe cold.

If waivers are not granted for Jan. 8, 9 and 10, the district has three makeup days built into the calendar. That would take care of Jan. 8, 9 and a day of school missed late last year because of weather.

As it currently stands, students’ last day of school was to have been June 5, and now students would have to go to school until June 6.

Teachers last day was to have been June 6, but now, they would have to return for a final day on June 9, which is after high school graduations.

If more school days are missed because of weather, they will have to be added at the end of the school year, Tanoos said. That is a concern. “It’s so early in January, and there is a lot of winter ahead of us,” he said.

The board’s next meeting is Jan. 27.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.