MOKANE, Mo. - The South Callaway Board of Education agreed Wednesday night to toughen smoking regulations next year on school property.
Lindsey Even, a South Callaway High School guidance counselor representing the Smokebusters organization, presented a proposed policy change that would "prohibit all employees, students and patrons from smoking or using tobacco products in all district facilities, on district transportation and on all district grounds at all times."
Board member Brent Woods said he had a problem voting for tougher regulations when current anti-smoking policies are not enforced.
The school has penalties against students violating the tobacco-free policy but no penalties against staff or visitors at the school.
As a compromise proposal, board member Greg Kimminau proposed and the board approved a measure that directs school administrators to increase awareness of the school's tobacco-free buildings by erecting more signs.
The board also approved Kimminau's motion to begin the tougher regulations proposed by the Smokebusters organization on July 1, 2014.
He said the district and employees need time to adjust to the changes that would come next year.
In other action, the board discussed a dip in American College Test (ACT) scores of graduating seniors this year.
Superintendent Kevin Hillman told the board one possible reason for the drop in the district's composite ACT scores this year was the slightly higher percentage of students taking the test this year.
"For several years, more than 60 percent of South Callaway students take ACT tests," Hillman said. "Many other schools have 50 percent or less of the students taking the test. As a general rule, the more students who take the test, the lower the overall score because generally the higher achieving students who plan to go to college take the test."
The South Callaway senior class composite score in the 2012-13 school year was 19.8, compared to the state average of 21.6 and the national average of 20.9.
Last year's South Callaway senior class composite score was 20.9, significantly higher than this year's score of 19.8.
This year was the first year in five years that South Callaway seniors scored significantly lower than state and national test score averages.
The composite score for graduating South Callaway seniors in 2010 was 21.1. It was 22.4 in 2009 and 21.5 in 2008, both higher than national averages.
Hillman told the board his administrative staff is looking carefully at test score results to determine the reasons for the dramatic drop in ACT scores this year compared to previous years.
He said lower scores cannot be blamed only on the higher percentage of students taking the test.
"South Callaway has a history of more than 60 percent of its students taking the ACT tests. We want to find out if this is just a blip or part of a disturbing downward trend," he said.