If students are late for a class at Riverside-Brookfield High School, now they’ll find themselves locked out of the classroom until they finds a security guard to record the tardy and print out a pass.
Teachers have been instructed to shut the door to their classrooms and not to allow tardy students into the classroom until a pass has been issued.
RBHS has just rolled out a new $12,000 software system called Hero, which comes with a mobile app that security guards and deans have on their smart phones. The smart phones record the tardy and mobile heat-based printers are used to print a pass. The security guard scans the student’s ID and the tardy is automatically recorded into the system.
Students grumble that having to track down a security guard just makes them later for class than they would have been if they were just allowed into the classroom before getting a pass. But one student, who didn’t want to give his name, conceded that the new system in effective.
The Hero system is part of a crackdown on tardies and allows the school to be consistent with how it enforces them.
“There were inconsistent measures on how we were obtaining and processing tardies previously in the building, so with this approach it’s just a consistent measure,” said Dave Mannon, the school’s new assistant principal for student affairs.
Mannon said it’s important that students be in class on time.
“A disruption is a disruption regardless of if it’s one minute or five minutes,” Mannon said.
Due to the crackdown on tardies this year, the numbers have increased, Mannon told the District 208 school board at a meeting earlier this month.
In the first semester, the average number of tardies per period increased to 13.6 per day from 9.7 per day last year. But the number of students late by more than 10 minutes decreased in the first semester to 6.6 per period per day from 8.4 per period per day last year.
Most tardies occur during first period when students are late for school. But tardies after the lunch period is also a problem as some students linger too long in the hallways instead of heading off to class.
Mannon says that the Hero system relieves teachers of the job of recording tardies and lets them focus on teaching.
“It alleviates them from marking a tardy in the Skyward system and calling home,” Mannon said. “It’s more of an opportunity for them to focus in on their instruction.”
The system keeps track of a student’s tardies and automatically notifies parents.
The Hero system can do much more than keep track of tardies and its capabilities will be utilized more extensively next year when it will be used to keep track of positive behaviors. It will keep track of a point system to replace the Bulldog Bucks, which are currently used to reward positive behavior.
“Next year, through our discipline committee, we’re going to put an incentive scale together in which teachers will have the ability in their classrooms to give points to students,” Mannon said. “We’re going to take away the actual paper process of it and then build in an incentive scale through our discipline committee.”
One new reward for students, which made its debut last week, was when the winner of a Bulldog Buck raffle got to invite three friends to watch a home basketball game from a couch brought into the gym. The students also were served free pizza.
Some parents have grumbled that they first learned of the Hero system through a story in the Clarion, the RBHS student newspaper. But Mannon said that students were made well aware of the new system and policy before it was put into use.
“We did a pretty effective job of getting the information out,” said Mannon, who noted that he went table to table to talk to students during lunch periods to explain the Hero system and new policy. He also mentioned the program on Twitter and was interviewed for the Feb. 3 Clarion story about the system. On Feb. 9 an email was sent to parents explaining the system and listing the consequences of tardies.
Mannon noted that students have always been expected to be in class by the time the bell rings.
“The attendance and tardy procedures are already built into our handbook, so those are already the expectations for students,” Mannon said. “It’s just that we’re consistently monitoring it now with this program.”
Overall behavior seems to be improving at RBHS this year, according to a discipline report Mannon present to the school board this month.
Suspensions in the first semester dropped by 42 percent compared to last year. This past semester 54 students were suspended compared to 93 in the first semester of the 2014-15 school year.
However one big fight in front of the school in December led to a jump an increase in suspensions for fighting in the first semester to 22 (14 in December) this school year compared to 14 in the first semester of the 2014-15 school year.
RBHS principal Kristin Smetana told the school board this month that she is impressed with Mannon’s initiatives this year.
“Dave’s done a great job of looking at how efficient some of the past practices have been and by changing and streamlining some things they’ve able to focus their attention on some other areas as well where maybe we haven’t been able to focus as much attention on in the past,” Smetana said.