With retailers filling shelves with colorful school supplies already this summer, one of those essential items for sale, the classic backpack, is facing the chopping block at YME. The proposed 2016-2017 YME handbook contains a segment, that if approved, would forbid backpacks from being brought into classrooms in the middle and high school.

With retailers filling shelves with colorful school supplies already this summer, one of those essential items for sale, the classic backpack, is facing the chopping block at YME. The proposed 2016-2017 YME handbook contains a segment, that if approved, would forbid backpacks from being brought into classrooms in the middle and high school.

The possible backpack guidelines were presented to the board as follows:
“Students will not be permitted to use a backpack during the school day. They are permitted to use backpacks to carry books and supplies to and from school and Physical Education class but are not permitted to carry their backpacks with them between classes.

Backpacks must remain in the student's locker. Students have an opportunity to go to their student lockers several times a day: before first period, before or after lunch, and before boarding the bus at dismissal. This policy is in response to the following concerns: the weight students carry on their backs and safer classroom environments.”

A heavy subject
The prospect of banning backpacks from classrooms was a controversial matter sparking a discussion about the pros and cons of such a policy between those in attendance at the meeting, including board members and teachers.

The policy is aimed at reducing the weight load on the students’ backs during the school day. Superintendent Dr. Clark explained the health concerns the policy is meant to address, “Backpacks are being overloaded. These kids are carrying substantial amounts.”

However, board member Steve Rupp was concerned about the impact of the policy of students, particularly for the middle school students.

After reading a long supply list for middle school students to the board, Rupp stated, “How the heck is someone going to carry half of that stuff with them when they’re this tall and we’re expecting them to go from Hoernemann’s room, down to the Health room, to wherever, all over. That was the one little tool they have that they could put stuff together and be sort of organized. From them to try to get to their locker, get their combination, and get into the darn thing and get their little legs up the stairs off to some other room in four minutes is crazy.”

Teacher Shiela Koepke explained that in her opinion, as was the opinion of other teachers in attendance, that removing the backpacks would actually encourage organizational skills.

She explained, “We truly don’t have kids now that go to their lockers, they carry everything with them...it makes it difficult to help kids how to manage, because they just carry everything with them.”

The policy also has intentions to prevent forbidden items from reaching classrooms and preventing the spread of contraband. Dr. Clark explained to the board that,

“Backpacks are personal property and are not subjected to search, as we would in a locker. Also, they are the prime mover for contraband.”

The fate of the backpacks of the YME middle and high school students is currently undecided. The backpack item was not approved by the board, due to the board pushing back making any action on the controversial item until the board had a chance to discuss the item with YME Principal Ryan Luft first. Luft was not in attendance at the July meeting due to vacation. The board approved the 2016-2017 handbook unanimously with the condition that a discussion will be held on the August 8 meeting, with Luft in attendance. 

In other news
•The employment for Jiana Robertsdahl as an English Language Teacher and Robyn Aslesen as the Musical Director was unanimously approved.

• Lunch prices will be rising to $2.77, which is the price for those who pay the full lunch price, a ten cent increase from the previous price of $2.66 in accordance with federal guidelines. Steve Rupp was the only dissenting vote.