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The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 10 June 1992
Board Delays Change in Policy
By John Perry
The Western Heights school board will wait until later this summer to consider changes in its corporal punishment policy to give a committee of teachers, administrators and parents more time to consider the issue, a district official said.
Superintendent Sharon Lease said a proposal from the committee was on the agenda of a special school board meeting last week. But it was postponed after some committee members said they were dissatisfied with the proposal.
The proposal would have continued use of the paddle in the southwest Oklahoma County school district, but only if parents sign an agreement at the beginning of the school year giving their permission.
The proposal also would allow paddling only after all other attempts at discipline are exhausted, including attempts to gain parents' help in working out a discipline problem, and would reduce the number of swats allowed from three to two.
Lease said she decided to ask the board to postpone the committee's report after some committee members said they were not satisfied with the proposed new policy and believed they had been left out of the decision process.
"I suggested they should get together and work on it some more," she said.
Five Oklahoma districts - Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Tulsa Union and Bartlesville - have banned corporal punishment. The Midwest City school board last summer rejected a paddling ban.
Los Angeles Times, Bulldog Edition, 28 June 1992
Small Town Will Advertise for Students
School chief hopes to attract enough urban dwellers to keep the 160-pupil New Mexico campus open
By Robert Holguin
CLAYTON, N.M. -- The dusty roads of this small northeastern New Mexico ranching community are lined with muddy pickup trucks and horse trailers. The rolling grasslands and enormous vistas that make up the remote landscape are interrupted only by a few wooden windmills and grazing cattle.
It's worlds away from life in an urban metropolis, but school officials here are hoping urban high school students are willing to leave the mean streets of the city for the quiet settings of Clayton.
Here's the pitch: go to a public school that offers individual attention, plenty of opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities with no worry about gangs or rampant drugs. Teens would live with a family in a town that's high in community values, but at least 250 miles away from the nearest shopping mall.
"The student who wants to go to a school in this sort of a city should have that opportunity," said Claude Austin, Clayton schools superintendent. "We just want to give kids a chance to see what school in a great small town like this is like."
Austin said the school district plans to launch an advertising campaign in July touting Clayton High's academic strengths and the town's safe environment to parents worried about the hazards of a big city atmosphere.
The ad, which will be financed by donations and school district funds, will urge parents to board their children with families in Clayton "so that the kids can attend an excellent high school, without intimidation, at a lower cost than most private schools."
The idea is Austin's brainchild. He said the prospective student and the school district would enjoy a symbiotic relationship as the result of a transfer.
Clayton High needs more students, he said, because records show the district is losing 10 to 15 youngsters a year.
Ranches and farms around this town of 2,500 are consolidating, using fewer employees, so many families have left for bigger communities, he said. The 1990 census showed a 16.3 percent drop in the area's population over a decade.
Some tangible proof of the desertion can be seen on U.S. 56 into Clayton, where about a dozen ranch houses stand abandoned, or in the small downtown area where boarded-up store fronts abound.
"We have so much to offer at this school with excellent teachers and excellent programs," Austin said. "We just want more people to offer them to. By advertising, people will know that we are making ourselves available."
He said the pupil-to-teacher ratio at Clayton High is 13 to 1, well below the state average of 18 to 1. This year the high school -- grades 9 through 12 -- had about 160 students. Austin said it could handle about 200 more.
"A kid that comes to school here has the opportunity to participate in everything," Austin said. "They can be in band, school plays, athletic teams . . . everything. They will get individual attention and will come out of here a more rounded person."
The student body's size also makes it easy to deal with disciplinary problems, said principal John Burgess.
"Students can't get lost in the shuffle in a school this small," Burgess said. "If they're ditching class or making trouble, it doesn't take long before I find them."
Burgess said Clayton High still uses corporal punishment.
"The parents here don't want their students suspended or expelled," he said. "They would rather see their kids given a swat and sent back to class. It's a system designed to keep the student in school and learning."
But the size that works for Clayton in promoting learning and discipline doesn't do much to bring state funding its way since that's based, in part, on school population.
"In order to maintain the programs we have now, we have to maintain our number of students," Austin said. "Otherwise, we'll have to cut."
He said he has gotten a few inquiries on his new program, but no one has visited or enrolled. He's optimistic, however, that once the advertising starts, students will come.
"This school has so much to offer," he said. "Even if we only get two or three new students out of the whole deal, I think it'll still be worth it."
The Yellowjackets are out of school for the summer, but many are contemplating the arrival of out-of-town students in time for next fall.
"I don't think it would take long for someone from a big city to blend in with us," said 17-year-old Eric Sanchez, junior class president at Clayton High. "We're all high school students, we all like to have fun. It doesn't take long to relate no matter where you come from."
"It would be fun to have some new faces," said Robbie Drumm, 17. "They would have a good time here."
Others aren't as positive about the recruiting.
"I don't think they would be accepted by the other students," said Kian Collins, 18, who transferred from Manhattan, Kan., to Clayton. "If you didn't grow up here, people won't treat you the same."
Another student, who asked not to be identified, said it is wrong to think Clayton High is immune to the problems facing students in urban environments.
"You'd be surprised what goes on in this nice, little town," she said. "Shipping kids off to a small town isn't going to solve anything."
Austin, who has been with the school district for 30 years, said he just wants families and students to understand what he has to offer.
"I'm not saying Clayton is a perfect town without any problems," he said. "But this is a great school in a great town. A student would never forget his years here."
New Mexico law requires out-of-state students to pay tuition of $1,845 to the state before enrolling in a public school. Austin estimates boarding costs at $300 a month.
"That generates more money in Clayton at a time when it's badly needed," said Joy Harris, director of the Union County Industrial Development office. "Maybe some of those parents or students will like it in Clayton and decide to stay.
"This place isn't a hard sell, the hard part is getting people here."
Copyright (c) 1992 Times Mirror Company
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