The Ottumwa Courier


April 16, 2014

Carrying bookbags a balancing act


He's delegated the task to the district community relations coordinator. The district is, at times, swamped with requests, since classrooms are obviously a great place to reach kids.

Kim Hellige, community relations director for the district, said because there was so much coming in, restrictions had to be set. There are several factors considered. The most basic is whether the offered program has, at its core, an educational component.

So some of the other groups have activities accepted — and activities turned down. A notice for a field day, said to contain outdoor learning opportunities, was accepted for distribution. Yet a well-liked children's parade had to be denied because it was not particularly educational. The OCCP theater camp, in fact, is considered educational enough to make the cut. The dances? Not so much, Hellige said.

Typically, she added, groups find an alternate distribution method for information not passed out by the schools.

There is no objective measure of "how educational" something is. Hellige told the board she does her best to keep the interest of the kids and parents in mind, and if she is on the fence about whether something is educational enough, she will get a second opinion from an administrator.

Though the discussion was held in open session, the board was not permitted to set or adjust the policy, or even vote to do so. State law requires that the board (and other taxpayer-supported elected entities) give public, 24-hour notice before taking any action.

— Education reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark

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