Group will make presentation on bullying to board

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, March 26, 2011

Austin Public School staff and parents are tackling bullying head on.

A group of Austin administrators and parents will be making a presentation on bullying to the school board during the board’s special session meeting Monday. Staff from Austin High School and Ellis Middle School renewed their focus on preventing bullying after the issue received national media attention last fall.

In February, anti-gay bullying advocate Jamie Nabozny gave a lecture and a free viewing of “Bullied,” the documentary about Nabozny’s struggle at Ashland High School in Ashland, Wis. and his lawsuit against Ashland Public School administrators. AHS and Ellis held cyber bullying assemblies in March as well. There will be a continued push to combat bullying through the spring and next school year, according to CHAI Coordinator Kirsten Lindbloom.

Sumner Elementary School Principal Sheila Berger will confirm next year’s enrollment numbers at Sumner as well.The board unanimously approved a modified calendar for Sumner and up to four sections of Woodson Kindergarten Center last month. The modified calendar, also called a 45/15 schedule or year-round schedule, means Sumner would start school earlier than other district schools and end at the same time as everyone else.

One of the last hurdles was to make sure enough students would attend Sumner next year, however. If there aren’t enough students enrolled at Sumner in fall, district officials will have to go back to the board and decide whether to continue with the modified calendar. This is unlikely, as a majority of parents approve of the calendar switch according to parent survey results gathered by Sumner staff.

The board will also discuss a possible community education class for prospective board members and will discuss the new school board meeting time. Board members voted last month to switch monthly school board meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the second Monday of the month.