School district goes tobacco-free
Jefferson City's Public Schools are going tobacco-free, effective March 1.
The six Board of Education members at Monday night's meeting all approved a policy change prohibiting smoking at all district facilities and property.
It's already against the law for students under 18 to smoke. But the policy change affects teachers, staff, parents and visitors.
"This would apply at all school activities for anyone," Superintendent Bert Kimble told the board, adding the change was highly recommended by the Missouri School Boards Association "as part of the district's overall wellness program."
It also would apply at public events held at the Miller Performing Arts Center and Adkins Stadium -- even events sponsored by non-school district groups.
"The penalty, I would assume, would be to ask them to not smoke or ask them to leave. One or the other," said Board President Duane Schreimann.
Kimble added: "We're not about going out and trying to catch people -- it's a matter of, let's inform people and phase it in."
Board member Tami Turner said: "We may not need a penalty system. If we put the appropriate signage up, after time, people will follow the rules. And six months from now or a year from now, if we feel like they're not, then possibly we could come up with some policy."
Kimble told the board the policy was discussed with the three Community Teachers associations before being recommended to the board.
"One of the teacher presidents pointed it out best when she said, 'We are a school district. We are here to be models for children,'" he said.
"As employees of this district, we serve children -- how can we model appropriate behavior, if we're allowing people to smoke on school grounds?"
Both Kimble and Schreimann said the new policy isn't meant to discriminate against smokers.
"They're perfectly free to smoke in their home, or on someone else's property," Schreimann said. "What this does is create an area where they can't smoke and a time during which they can't smoke. ...
"I think the board is unanimous in we don't want this to create unnecessary controversy -- we recognize there is going to be a time that it's going to take for the public to understand this."
The new no-tobacco policy was one of 30 policy changes winning the board's okay Monday night.
Among the others was the district's compliance with requirements of both a new state law and the federal No Child Left Behind law, setting a goal to "facilitate parent/family involvement" in school activities.