By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees will vote tonight on 11 new policies during its regular meeting at the Greensboro center at 6 p.m.
Among the policies up for consideration is Policy ICG, which will require the school board to decide whether the district will teach Abstinence-Only or Abstinence-Plus sex-related education, as required by House Bill 999. While both curriculums would focus on negative effects of having sex outside of marriage, the Abstinence-Plus policy would also include “any other age and grade appropriate material such as contraceptives (excluding instruction and demonstration on the application and use of condoms), the nature, cause and effects of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, along with a factual presentation of the risks and failure rates.”
The board will also decide whether to require only licensed employees, like teachers and administrators, to follow the Professional Educator Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, or to extend it to all district employees. The code outlines appropriate behavior and conduct for employees both on and off school grounds.
The board may also approve a policy that would require members to be notified if anyone attending the meeting plans to record, videotape or take photographs during the meeting.
“Photographs, broadcasting and recordings of meetings may be made only when all parties involved have been informed that cameras, broadcasting and/or recording devices are being used,” the policy states. “Persons operating cameras, broadcasting and/or recording devices must do so with a minimum disruption to those present at the meeting. Specifically, the view between board members and the audience must not be obstructed, interviews must not be conducted during the meeting and no commentary is to be given in a manner that distracts board members or the audience.”
While the board is not allowed to make a policy banning recording devices or photography according to the Open Meetings Act, it could halt recordings if they interrupt or disturb the meeting. The policy is a suggestion from Mississippi School Board Association.
Other policies include vandalism protection — which would allow the district to suspend or expel a student who damages school property and hold their parents’ liable for all damages — and a homeland security policy that would call for rules and regulations for emergency preparedness in the event of an alert issued by the national Department of Homeland Security.
The policies can be viewed in full on the district’s website at http://www.starkville.k12.ms.us  under the “SSD Announcements” section. The board held its first reading of the policies last month. During tonight’s meeting, the board will have the second reading and consideration of adoption.
Over the last month, parents and community members have had the opportunity to give their opinions to the board members regarding the potential policies. Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said the district has received the most responses regarding the sex-related education policy.
Board president Keith Coble said the board would take the public feedback into account when voting on the policies.
Also on the agenda is the consideration of approval of the audit of the 2009 fiscal year and the authorization to pay the accounting firm who performed the audit. The board held a special meeting last month to have an exit conference with the firm regarding the audit after a number issues caused the audit to be delayed. The board plans to hold an exit conference for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal year audits in January, which will catch the district up on financial audits.