07/03/07 — Wayne School Board starts work on tobacco-free policy

View Archive

Wayne School Board starts work on tobacco-free policy

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 3, 2007 1:45 PM

With a bill likely heading this week to Gov. Mike Easley's desk to mandate that all of North Carolina's schools be tobacco-free, the Wayne County Board of Education got a head start Monday evening, directing its staff to move forward with the creation and implementation of such a policy.

Across the state, 87 school districts have already enacted similar rules.

Under the pending legislation, the rest will join them by Aug. 1.

The ban, which will include all smoke and smokeless forms of tobacco, will be extended to all students, faculty and staff, parents and anyone else on school grounds or at school-sponsored events.

And while beginning work on such a policy is not yet mandatory, board member Thelma Smith said in her motion that she thought it best to go ahead and get started.

"I don't understand what we would have to wait for, 87 counties have already adopted it," she said. "It's going to be signed into legislation anyway, why should we be late in showing our support?"

And it's not, she continued, that she thinks Wayne County has a problem with students smoking on campus. She just thinks it's an overdue policy, noting that it is directed in large part toward staff, parents and others visiting school campuses.

"We need to make this statement as a school system," she said.

Also Monday night, the school board voted to move forward with the purchase of a 46-acre tract off of U.S. 13 in the Grantham community from Ruth Hardy, at a price of $370,000.

"This is one (piece of land) we've had an option on and it's about to run out," school Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor said.

As part of that option, the school board has already paid about $11,100. The rest of the cost will be paid for by the county's proceeds from the N.C. Education Lottery.

Taylor said the land would likely be the future site of a new Grantham Middle School.

Its purchase, though, must first be approved by the county commissioners, and the school board urged them to act quickly on the request, as the option will run out in September.

"The thing I like about this is, it's action. We're getting it off the blackboard and moving toward some facilities," board member Dave Thomas said. "I just want us to continue on the facility plan."

The next step forward on that plan is to prioritize the $120 million list of 17 school construction projects, which Taylor said, he hopes the board can meet again sometime within the next two weeks to finalize.