Tuesday, May 23, 2006

and now, the rest of the story

I'm going to give you some links so you can check the facts for yourself--but stay with me for a moment.

One of the reasons we have this blog is to make sure you have access to sides of the story that the media are missing. Today's Olympian article on the board's decision to close the CHS campus is a case in point.
Capital High School students won’t be allowed to leave campus for lunch starting in the fall, Olympia School District Superintendent Bill Lahmann announced at the meeting Monday.

Lahmann told the Olympia School Board that district policy dictates that Olympia high schools keep students on campus for lunch unless there isn’t room in the cafeteria to feed them all.
Now, I've been following this story since it first broke, and this was new(s) to me. Why? Because in a chat with Olympia citizens, Lahmann never mentioned the policy, and made it seem like the option to keep an open campus was still on the table.
We'll be discussing once we have capacity for lunch for all students whether we need to close the campus at Capital High School, much like we have at Olympia High School.
The de facto closed campus rule also went unmentioned in a previous Olympian article.
Administrators at Capital High and the Olympia School District are weighing whether to bar students from leaving campus at lunchtime after the school's renovation project is complete this fall. They expect to discuss the issue May 22 at a school board meeting.

Capital's cafeteria isn't big enough to accommodate the 750 students who eat during each of the school's two lunch periods. But it will be once a $24.2 million renovation and expansion project is finished in September.

“The expectation when we passed the bond a couple years ago was that we would expand the cafeteria and that would allow us to close the campus at Capital,” said Peter Rex, an Olympia School District spokesman.
Again--no mention of the policy, though someone aware of its existence might make the inference from Rex's comments.

I took a trip to the OSD website to read the policy for myself. Here it is.
Students are to remain on campus unless leaving for a reason approved by parents and/or school officials. Students leaving without such an excuse will be considered truant.
Notice that it apparently wasn't even available on the web until May 18 of this year, four days before the most recent board meeting. (Or on May 22, if this search snapshot date is correct.)

What am I getting at? Here was a clear case where a subject ostensibly up for discussion really wasn't, because the district's forgotten policy--apparently in place since revision in 1995--left no room for debate. But no one, not the district, not The Olympian, not anyone I spoke to, mentioned that hindsight-obvious fact until Monday.

This is why we need your help to tell the whole story, no matter the issue. It takes five minutes a day. Read up. Dig deeper. Inform yourself. Better yet, join us and inform others.

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