New NK Policies Affect Students

Caroline Dowd, Features Editor

This year, multiple new policies have been implemented at North Kingstown High School. 

The first of these policies is the new set of cell phone rules. Last school year, teachers requested that school administration enact stricter rules regarding student cell phone usage. School administrators then took it upon themselves to gather student and parent opinion to, in the words of Assistant Principal Donna Sweet, “test the waters regarding student cell phone use.” 

Under the new system students are prohibited from using their phones during class and also from wearing earbuds during passing time. If a student is caught using their phone, a teacher will send the phone to the Student Services Office where it can be collected at the end of the school day. Students are however, still allowed to use their phones during lunchtime. 

The new policy has been met with a mixed response from the student body. Student Union President leader Joey Vento says, “Ultimately there needs to be some sort of baseline restriction [regarding cell phone use] and I like that about this policy but there’s definitely room for us [students] to make a decision regarding our phones.” Junior Skylar DeGraw has a different viewpoint. She says that “There’s academic purposes for having your phone and the cell phone policy goes against that.”  

Another change at NKHS is the termination of class ranks beginning with the class of 2020. School administration first made this decision back in 2016 when the current senior class were freshman. Sweet says that the move was made after professionals in college admissions came to administration saying that submitting class rank hurt students.

 “Elite schools, whether public or private, keep stats,” she says. “Like average GPA or SAT scores. well when you start factoring in rank like ‘we took in number 7 or number 12,’ so getting rid of rank levels the playing field for students who are applying to elite schools.”

The last new policy isn’t a policy at all but a new ruling enacted by the former Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Ken Wagner. The new ruling, which affects the entire state, says that schools aren’t allowed to fund trips themselves, but that the funding must come through the districts budget or through “donations”.

But North Kingstown’s’s 2019-2020 budget was set last year. Just recently for a school trip to New England Tech, NKHS had to dip into its Student Activities account to cover expenses.  Vento said, “I don’t agree with the ruling of the previous commissioner because districts like NK already do provide financial help to those who state that they cannot afford to pay the cost of the field trip.” 

There are still discussions occurring at a higher level to revise or even repeal the ruling (Commissioner Wagner left the position the same week that the ruling was made).  Sweet says that Superintendents are currently evaluating how schools are responding to the resolution. “I don’t know how long it will stay this way, I don’t know if it’ll get reversed but it’s definitely, you know the conversations is still in process”.