No more lockers at new M-CHS?

By Jim Mimiaga
Journal Staff Writer

The way schools operate is changing: e-readers instead of board packets and perhaps in place of textbooks, tightened security measures, and now, maybe, no lockers?

"It's an idea at this point," says Jason Wayman, Montezuma-Cortez High School principal. "Some schools report that when they get rid of lockers, it decreases behaviors like bullying and creates better flow in the hallways."

Wayman broached the idea at last month's M-CHS Accountability Committee Meeting. It needs some mulling over, but lockers could be eliminated next year, and if all goes well, the lockerless plan could be integrated into the new M-CHS design. The building is due to open in August 2015.

Eliminating lockers would also cut down on theft, Wayman said, since many students don't bother to lock them.

The idea has some drawbacks. Without lockers, students would need space to securely store jackets, textbooks, computers and assorted personal belongings. Most of these items would be carried around in backpacks, Wayman said. Classrooms could have designated storage areas. Textbooks could be left in the rooms instead of lugged between classes - and home - each day. More student reading material comes in electronic form these days, as eBooks and Internet-based learning, meaning fewer physical textbooks.

Another benefit, Wayman suggested, would be less tardiness and in-class disruptions from students claiming to forget work in their lockers.

Congregating with friends around lockers has long been a social pastime in high school, but it prevents getting to class on time, he added. Students clustering in the hallway also creates blockages, a safety concern.

"When we ran the calculations for (student flow) in the hallways for the new high school, there were some bottlenecks at the intersections. (No lockers) would keep them moving," Wayman said.

Eliminating lockers is not a new idea. In the 1970s, lockers were placed off-limits or removed because of fears students hid knives and guns, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Columbine High School massacre triggered locker removal at many schools. But those same weapons could be stashed in backpacks as well. By 2000, lockers made a comeback at the urging of parents and students, but they may be on the wane again.

Several other items for the 2013-14 school year were discussed at the Accountability Meeting:

. Continuing the closed-campus lunch model, expanding it to all grades. In effect for freshmen and sophomores since January, the lunch plan has cut the number of students who return from lunch tardy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As an incentive, students with good grades and attendance will still be allowed to leave campus for lunch. The split-lunch period will also be combined into one.

. For budgetary reasons, one English teacher position has been eliminated and a vice principal position will be dropped starting next year. The VP duties, including those of athletic director, will be dispersed between other administrators and the principal. The cuts will save M-CHS $90,000; that funding will be directed to student learning services, preventing cuts there.

. M-CHS is considering a "no interruption period" at the beginning of each class. After the bell rings, classroom doors would be closed and stragglers locked out or sent to detention. This idea was not well received by teachers, who said they might have to re-explain lessons.

Journal Staff Writer Luke Groskopf contributed to this story.

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