SIDNEY — A new clock and bell system will soon be installed at Sidney High School (SHS).
After some debate at Tuesday evening’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting, the board voted to purchase a new clock and bell system from Low Voltage Solutions Inc. at the cost of approximately $28,000.
Board member Robert Smith questioned Business Manager Jerry Harmon on why the clock system is important. Smith said out of the “need, should do, or it would be nice to do” categories, he needed help getting on board putting the almost $30,000 purchase into the “need” category as opposed to the “it would be nice to do” category. He felt the money could potentially be used in another capacity for other school needs such as for an annual student testing subscription cost, science equipment or supplies.
“I think one of the life skills that we teach kids is that you be on-time, you show-up on-time, you get to work everyday on-time; that’s just a good life skill to have,” Harmon told Smith. “From my point of view, it’s very much an educational thing. … There can be as much as six to seven minutes off of a 40/45 minute period sometimes if there is just a lot of milling around at the beginning and at the end of the class. To me, that’s just not acceptable with the short amount of time that you have for instruction. So, I guess that would make it very much a needed and a must do thing.”
Superintendent John Scheu and some board members spoke in support of the purchase, saying it was important and something that they should do.
Scheu agreed expenditures should be put into one of the three categories Smith mentioned, and strongly recommended placing the clock system into the “need” category.
“I think one of the skills we need to teach kids and really emphasize is not only punctual attendance, but punctuality getting to some place on time. … Not only is it embarrassing when you walk in there and you see the clocks all different times, I think the fact of the matter is, it’s teaching kids how important punctuality is. And you can’t hold kids accountable if the clocks are so messed, and bells system are not in-sync with each other,” Scheu said. “The bells are not in-sync with each other, so now instead of 44/45 minutes, you’re talking about instruction of maybe 40/41 minutes, at best, with the kids coming and going.”
Board member Paul Heins added, “… SHS is so spread out from one end of the building to the other end, (to) not have everything timed-up together in unison and stuff, in my mind, not just the issues (of punctuality) you guys have brought up here, but things have got to be coordinated and work. … I think it’s something needs to be done. … and to me this is probably something that should have been done a long time ago, and just has been let go.”
Board member and former SHS teacher Mandi Croft said she never knew when the bells were going to go off, even after she brought her own clock into classroom that she knew was correct.
“It’s hard to argue with somebody who says, ‘well, no, it’s this time,” and you are trying to discipline them for being there late, when they have something else that says it’s this time. So, it does pose (an issue),” Croft said. “It was kind of frustrating.”
Treasurer Mike Watkins said since he has been with Sidney, they haven’t made the change because they couldn’t afford it in the past, and he believes they let it go for so long because it had already been that way for so long. However, he said he believes the expenditure “definitely falls above” a “want to do” category.
“It’s something we should do to allow our high school to work efficiently throughout the day with the students and the teachers and the staff, for what they are doing,” Watkins said. “We’ve reached the point financially where we can do some of these “should dos,” depending on the level of the expenditure. The budget will sustain it, the long term budget will sustain it.”
SHS Principal John Guey also voiced strong support for the new clock/bell system. He said on April 6 SHS will be hosting approximately 60 employers at a job fair and during their monthly meetings with the workforce partnership, every participating employer speaks of their biggest issue is employees being on-time everyday.
“Every one of those people sitting around that table tell us one of the biggest things about employees is getting to work on-time everyday. And if one end of the building is 20 minutes different than the other (part of the) building,… The little things, when they’re done right can help the big picture in the long run. … In a $32 million budget, to me, $27,000 is well worth the money for us to say SHS is putting their priorities right,” Guey said.
Smith questioned if the clocks will bleed 20 minutes in one day, as he suggested that SHS could appoint someone to reset the clocks regularly.
Guey and Harmon both attested that several clocks are unpredictable and sometimes move several hours in one day.
Watkins argued that it doesn’t matter whether the clocks move 20 minutes in one day or one week, “it’s not right” and that “they should work right.”
At the conclusion of the discussion, Watkins took roll call on the purchase, which passed 5-1 with Smith voting no.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.