Changes at CMS concern parents

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Craig resident Eric Langstaff likened the new discipline structure at Craig Middle School to communist Russia and its honor cards to the stars used to target Jews.

Monday's parent meeting didn't change his mind.

"I'm taking it to the next level," he said. "I'm going to the state school board."

When the CMS Parent Advisory Committee was scheduled to discuss changes to the school's disciplinary code, four parents attended the first meeting and one the second.

Tuesday night, more than 50 parents crowded into the CMS library, with some standing in the hall to catch the discussion.

Parents seemed most concerned about two aspects of the changes: the discontinued use of the area in front of the school and the impact the changes will have on morale.

Parents who spoke seemed divided on whether confining students to the back of the school was a good thing or not.

"To me it's a safety issue," Heidi Meyring said. "When you see kids run over to Kum & Go, you don't know what they're coming back with in their pockets. As a parent I feel safer knowing they're tucked in back."

Several parents volunteered to work with school officials and the student council on fund-raising activities to purchase benches, umbrellas and sporting equipment so students would have shade and entertainment besides football and catch, a primary complaint among parents.

In the face of the school staff's desire for a consistent disciplinary plan and student and parent surveys that ranked student safety beneath all other schools in the district, school officials also revised its code of conduct.

"We made significant changes," Principal Steve Wiersma said. "We made them with reason and I don't think we made them capriciously."

He said the changes fit into a new system of replacing punishment with a loss of privileges.

Students are issued "dog tags" once a week that give them a rotating space in the lunch line, allowing all students the chance to stand at the front of the line at least once a week. Students who log an infraction lose their dog tag for that week. Infractions are ranked Level 1 though 4 depending on their severity and students earn points for committing infractions. Those points are tallied and used to calculate a student's citizenship grade.

So far this year, 315 students have an A in citizenship. Twenty-eight have a B, 15 a C, five a D and 8 an F.

Several parents asked what rewards were offered to students who consistently exhibited good behavior.

Wiersma said students received 28 minutes of "privilege time" for not losing their dog tags. School officials also arelooking into additional rewards.

"We want to reward good behavior," teacher Norm Yoast said.

Wiersma encouraged any parent with a concern not only to visit with him but to observe some of the changes first hand.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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