MHS lockers, parking policy face changes

By Carolyn Cole/Staff Writer

Mustang High School students will face changes when they return to class Friday — no lockers, few parking spaces and less textbooks will be sent home.

While lockers will remain in hallways, Shannon Rigsby, Mustang School District spokeswoman, said they will not be assigned, nor will textbooks be checked out to every student for each class. Teachers will keep a set in the classrooms and assign teens passwords to access the books on the Internet to complete homework or study outside of school.

“For those who don’t like to read the book online or who have no Internet access, there will be books for them to check out,” she said.

While the move is expected to save the school money — less textbooks to order and fewer books will be lost by students, Rigsby said it’s also a matter of practicality. Mustang High School has eight main unconnected buildings with classes stretched over a community college-like campus. She said several students each year developed back problems from toting books all day because their locker was located on the opposite side of campus from their classes.

“Some of them were carrying around backpacks full of textbooks,” she said. “It wasn’t practical or feasible for them to keep their textbooks in their locker and keep going back.”

Space on campus also poses other problems. Rigsby said this year only about half of junior and senior students will be issued parking permits. Sophomores will no longer be eligible to drive to school.

Mustang High School’s parking lot space is shrinking. The main lot can accommodate 620 cars, compared to 1,130 junior and senior students expected to attend MHS, based on last spring’s enrollment data. MHS has used, a gravel lot across Snyder Drive for extra parking, however, the land is being used to house a new vocational agriculture facility. The lot accommodated 100 vehicles.

Last year, students were allowed to park in a gravel lot near the baseball and soccer fields, across Juniper Drive, but Rigsby said that didn’t work well.

“The kids didn’t like parking there,” she said. “People were still cruising the main lot trying to find a parking space or making a space.”

The graveled lot also posed a supervision problem, she said, adding campus officers can patrol the main lot more easily. Detention will continue to be the consequence for a first-offense parking violation.

Parking permit fees have also doubled this year, which Rigsby said is the first increase in 10 years. Students will pay $20 for a permit, up from $10 last year.

Back to school

Mustang students will be back in class Friday morning, including students at Mustang Centennial Elementary. Bond Projects Director Jim Burkey said the fire marshal toured the facility Monday and cleared teachers to start moving in materials. He said the official was scheduled to return Wednesday and issue an occupancy permit. The school will host its first open house this evening.

Watch for school zones

Police Capt. Willard James urges drivers to watch out for children walking and riding bikes to school and school buses stopping for children.

“It is unlawful to pass that school bus while its loading or unloading lights are on,” he said, adding traffic in both directions should stop. “That includes state Highway 152.”

Lockers and books

I am certain that I am not the first, nor will I be the last, parent to express my disappointment regarding the new book policy. I am all for checking out books to students to take home and having another set in the classrooms for them to use. My oldest son graduated last year, and I was amazed at how heavy his bookbag was! He explained that he could never make it to his locker between classes. If any of the administrators really think that an online alternative to a real book is a great idea, they are not being realistic. There is no substitute for a textbook in your hands as you do homework. I would expect there will be a signficant backlash to this new policy, so get ready for it. And get ready for a flood of students checking out sets of books to have at home.

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