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Cell phones making a comeback at Hall school
School board also begins budget talks for fiscal 2011
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Village at Deaton Creek

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Cell phones were once frowned upon in schools, but they are making a positive impact at one Hall County school.

During Monday’s meeting, the Hall County Board of Education received an update on the system’s cell phone pilot program at Flowery Branch High School.

“It’s going well, there are a lot fewer disciplinary actions being taken now than before the program was started,” Superintendent Will Schofield said. “It fits right in with the need to get beyond barring technology and putting more emphasis on the ethical use of it.”

Schofield said students at the school are allowed to use cell phones between classes and sometimes in class in certain cases.

“I know of at least one social studies class where students were able to text their grandparents and get real-time feedback about what it was like to be sharecroppers in the early 1900s,” Schofield said.

The school board approved the program in February, following a request from Flowery Branch Principal Mark Coleman.

During the meeting, the board also began preliminary discussions for the system’s budget for fiscal 2011.

“Based on our best guesses, if we don’t change anything from (this year’s budget), we’ll end next year in a deficit,” Schofield said.

“Nothing is official yet, but it looks like state funding could be down $5 (million) or $7 million even over this (year’s reductions).”

To make up the difference, the system may have to reduce expenditures.

“We’re looking at several possibilities — (system) furlough days, a reduction of the local (salary) supplement and the consolidation of a school,” Schofield said. “But nothing is set in stone and no decisions have been made yet. Overall, we believe that we will be in much better shape than a number of districts across the state because we have been making drastic changes in the last several years and anticipating (state funding) cuts.”

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