Saturday, September 15, 2012
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LCHS superintendent offers relaxed coffee with serious interest to listen

By Hannah Michalsen

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[September 15, 2012]  Thursday morning, community members were given the opportunity to have coffee and a cinnamon roll at the Owl's Roost with Lincoln Community High School Superintendent Robert Bagby. However, this was not just a social visit for the administrator. He was offering parents and the community a place to voice concerns, ask questions and suggest ideas for Lincoln Community High School.

Mr. Bagby commented, "Lincoln High School is fortunate to have tremendous community support."

Before starting the forum, Bagby made several statements about improvements and achievements of the high school. He said that in the four years he has been superintendent, the track and tennis courts have been resurfaced, an electric sign added, an alternative education school program and dual credit curriculum introduced, and technical education is at record enrollment.

Bagby was proud of the alternative program, which has been growing in recent years. An alternative high school education is "not just for those students with behavioral problems anymore," he said. "It is also for students needing to enter the ‘real world' more quickly." Students can take classes between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. The time difference allows students who are working the opportunity to also attend school at hours more fitted to their schedule.

Lincoln Community High School has paired with Lincoln College to provide dual credit for high school and college courses. LCHS students can graduate with not only a high school diploma but also up to 22 college credits. The courses are offered for about $136 per credit; however, the LCHS Board of Education reimburses the students $75 per credit hour. Bagby explained that the reimbursement means that overall the student pays for only 11 credit hours out-of-pocket.

Programs of Lincolnland Technical Education Center, or LTEC, have grown beyond expectations in recent years. LTEC has automotive, culinary, health, criminal justice and building trades programs already in place. Students who are enrolled in these classes can graduate with a food-handling license or automotive technician skills. Bagby mentioned that other programs such as HVAC, welding and cosmetology are in the process of being started.

Those who were present for the forum brought up concerns such as enforcing a school uniform, cellphone policies, truancy and the emergency response plan.

The superintendent gave every question or concern his utmost attention. He answered and explained in a thorough manner that pleased those in attendance.

Uniforms have always been an option, but Bagby felt that a dress code was certainly enough. It is enforced but, as always, it can be improved.

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The cellphone policy at LCHS is that students may carry a cellphone, but it must be turned off and not used during the day. One parent was in favor of changing the policy to allow students to use their cellphones in the hallways so that parents could stay more connected to their student throughout the day. Bagby did say that the current cellphone policy was working, but exploring other avenues is always a possibility.

Truancy and dropout rates are issues that every high school faces. Bagby declared that LCHS was no different; however, the implementation of the alternative education program is lowering those rates. Alternative education is not just for behaviorally challenged students but also for unique circumstances.

An astounding fact that Bagby mentioned was that there are currently 42 documented homeless students -- meaning they have no fixed nighttime abode. LCHS does receive federal aid to offer free and reduced-price lunches. The district also gives free textbooks to students needing that kind of service. The school will always face truancy and dropout problems, but LCHS has programs in place in order to better combat it.

Due to the recent Normal Community High School incident, emergency procedures were fresh in everyone's mind. Bagby explained that LCHS does have a lockdown emergency policy. Students and teachers have been instructed in the proper steps if a situation were to arise. The SchoolReach communication service has been put in place to notify parents and guardians. Bagby also mentioned that new radios were purchased this year to be in better contact with the Lincoln Police Department. He said LCHS was as prepared as possible.

Bagby was excited after the conclusion of the forum. He said he had received some great ideas and was now better aware of the community concerns. He thanked those in attendance and announced that a spring coffee forum will be in the plans for next semester.


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