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The Recorder - Greenfield School Board Endorses New Technology To Limit Student Cell Phone Use

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GREENFIELD — With a majority vote of support from the school board and mixed reviews from the community, administrators are pushing ahead with plans to use magnetic cell phone pouches where student phones will be locked during the day.

Superintendent Christine DeBarge, who ordered the pouches, previously said the initial cost would be about $16,000 and would cover middle and high school level students. After that, the recurring cost is approximately $12,000 per year, depending on the student’s enrollment status. The pouch is created by Yondr, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

“I bought the pouch because it would have been a better decision to have the pouch and change my mind and possibly return it and then move forward…get the device “We couldn’t,” DeBarge told the school.A member of the committee on Wednesday added that she confirmed the cell phone pouches could be returned if the administration changed course.

Commission member Elizabeth Denive was the only person to vote against the motion to support the initiative.

“We’re not looking for balance here,” Deneeve says. “I think moving to this extreme situation without giving parents time to be actively involved and earn their trust is putting carts before horses.”

According to chairman Amy Proietti, the emails the school board received last month about cell phone pouches were mixed in nature, with a “majority” expressing support and others expressing concern. .

However, the handful of parents I spoke to Wednesday night were skeptical of the idea, not only because of the emergence of a “top-down” approach to decision-making, but also because they felt they were unable to address the issue. I was against it. Its roots.

“The problem is bigger than cell phones,” said Bram Morenith, a Greenfield parent who teaches digital literacy in Springfield. “I think we should address the fundamental issue of respect for teachers, respect for each other, and respect for students.”

Former public school teacher Paul Jabron, who lives in Greenfield, agreed with Moreinis’ concerns.

“The money we spend on this should really go to teachers … figuring out ways to empower and equip all kids in middle and high school with conflict resolution skills,” Jabron said. For $16,000, you get training, so you can learn the skills.”

Another parent, Anne Childs, said she felt the way the decision was made was “hostile” and showed no effort to “regain the parent’s trust”.

DeBarge told school committee members last month that cell phone use during school hours was partly linked to patterns of “disruptive behavior” that committee members were informed about throughout the school year. Last fall, students, parents, and teachers spoke at an emotional school board meeting about their concerns about the behavioral problems that disrupt middle and high schools on an almost daily basis.

According to DeBarge, the porch where cell phones are locked when students enter the building is supported by both acting police chief William Gordon and state police officer James Carmichael.

In addition to the informational meeting held earlier this week, the district intends to send more resources to families at both schools, DeBarge said.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she stressed. “There have been urgent situations raised by staff. Administrators are working hard to support them in ways they feel will return the school to a positive learning environment.”

She also addressed comments that she’d be better off spending money on parapros, for example.

“[The cost]is a lot, but it’s not a semi-professional expense,” says DeBarge. “The semi-professionals are making more money than we can afford to spend on this.”

Glenn Johnson Mussad, a member of the school board, said porch wasn’t necessarily the route he took, but he understands the “almost hopelessness” of teachers and administrators.

“If this is what you want to do, I’m thinking about it. I think you should try,” he said. “I also think that this is a sustainable investment.

He added that $16,000 is likely not enough to provide training that “really makes a difference.”

However, school board member Kate Martini felt otherwise.

“I think we need to respect modern parents, parents who are raising children right now … and the tools people can take away or take advantage of to keep their children safe in an increasingly dangerous world. “These pouches are easily sabotaged. Teachers have to deal with when students don’t follow the rules,” she said. Moments for action aren’t going away.

In response to a point raised by Johnson Mussad last month about having “objective and measurable goals” for the initiative, DeBarge said it was a “reasonable request” for the commission to ask.

“If it works, great,” says DeBarge. “If it doesn’t work, I think we certainly know that. But continuing the way we did last year is unsustainable and not healthy for anyone in this environment.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.