Sometimes you just have to step out on that proverbial limb and take a chance.
The limb may break from time to time, but it may not. And that's when you learn a lot about yourself.
That's where Linton-Stockton School Corporation Superintendent Nick Karazsia, his administrators, and teachers found themselves.
Should they allow cell phones and other devices in school or continue with the status quo of banning the devices?
"Sometimes you have to take that risk," Karazsia said. "If you're a teacher and in education, are you going to sit on your hands and do the same old stuff, or take a risk and think outside the box?
"This just might spark education."
On Monday, the Board of School Trustees passed a proposal to allow cell phones and other devices to be used on school grounds before school, during lunch, and between classes.
It will be allowed for the month of March only -- as a test -- and the administrators and board will consider a permanent change.
"I believe it's an exciting time," Karazsia said. "I'm glad the board feels the same way."
Students won't be able to use the Internet, though they can listen to music and do other activities that don't need a wireless connection.
The school's current infrastructure isn't capable of handling the additional wireless usage from so many cell phones. Karazsia said between 80 and 90 percent of his students have cell phones, and the majority are Internet accessible.
"It would immediately slow our system down," Karazsia said.
But Karazsia hopes that will change.
"Say you were in Social Studies class, and they're talking about the presidency and all the debates and they wanted to look up Mitt Romney. That would be pretty cool to do that, and we'd love for them to be able to access that information."
With the help of grant money, the goal is to have wireless access points established throughout the schools, allowing for Internet access in the classrooms for students. Over spring break the points will be installed in the elementary school by technology director Dave Adler and his staff.
"We have fiber now throughout, it's Smithville, but we have to have those access points available," Karazsia said.
If everything goes well, the elementary may be used as a test to allow students to use the Internet on their cell phones and other devices.
"If we eventually allow them to use (Internet) or we purchase some devices (like iPads or some other kind of notebook), if you don't have the infrastructure it won't matter," Karazsia said.
Nichole Hughes, the high-ability teacher for the elementary, is purchasing six notebooks for her classroom.
"That will be a good class to use as a test," Karazsia said.
Karazsia pointed out that some schools are now purchasing iPads and other devices for students to use as educational tools.
"They're a very good educational tool," Karazsia said. "We had a policy that you can't bring any devices to school. It's just the opposite of what some others are doing. That got us to thinking. Maybe we need to rethink what we need to do."
He added that the school needs to change with the times if possible.
"These items can be very beneficial and help our students be better learners. ... We thought maybe it's time for us to change," Karazsia explained.
"The big concern with these devices is if they're misused. I have faith in our students, teachers, and administrators they're going to do the right thing. This is an opportunity for our students to prove to us they can use them in a responsible manner like they're supposed to."
Karazsia stressed that during March if students view an inappropriate video or anything similar, they will have their device taken away
The rules for cell phone use in March at the Linton-Stockton School Corporation:
1. The test run will be from March 1-31, 2012.
2. The students will be permitted to use their devices any time on school campus before school, after school, during passing periods between classes, at lunch, and on the bus.
3. When the students are in class, the teachers will ask the students to take their devices out, turn them off, and keep them on their desks or at a place in the room designated by the teacher.
4. Since, at the present time the school does not have the infrastructure that will enable it to accommodate full Wi-Fi student access, and since the school does not want its students to exhaust their individual data plans, teachers will not permit their students to use their devices in their classrooms unless the devices can be used without accessing their data plans.
5. If a student violates this procedure, the device will be taken from the student and it will be given to the parent when the parent meets with the building principal. A junior high and high school student will also serve an extended after school detention, which is from 3--5 p.m., and an elementary student will have recess time taken away.
6. This temporary change in procedure will in no way affect current laws and statutes. These state statutes will continue to be in effect and enforced.
7. The building principals will have the authority to end the test run at any time, if he feels that it is in the best interest of their students and school facility to do so.
8. The building principals will have discussions with teachers, staff, and bus drivers on this change in procedure. The building principals will present a follow-up report to the board on the progress of the test run at the March 19, 2012 board meeting.
Chris is the general manager/editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 847-4487.