Closed campus improves stats

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By Dave Bell

When the Vandalia School Board last February voted to close the Vandalia Community High School campus, it was with the hope that keeping students on school property during the lunch period would enhance the overall learning atmosphere.

But they couldn’t have imagined that the results would be so dramatic.

In a report presented to the school board last week by Assistant Principal Brian Kern, first semester statistics showed improvements that he termed “unbelievable.” But the numbers were there to make believers out of even the skeptics: truancy cases dropped from 146 last year to 18 this year; tardiness declined from 356 last year to 133 this year; and fighting disappeared entirely, with 11 cases last year and none this year. Overall, disciplinary incidents fell from 1,019 last year to 570 this year – a decline of 44 percent.

Certainly, the closed campus wasn’t the only factor impacting the changes. For one, Kern gave up his duties as athletic director to focus solely on administrative issues. Several incentive programs were initiated, giving students reasons to be on their best behavior. And, frankly, keeping the students on school property at lunchtime reduced the opportunities for them to take the afternoon off.

Regardless of the reasons, the improved behavior is a good thing. If students are in class and behaving, they’re learning a lot more than they would sitting in the assistant principal’s office or driving around town. And positive behavior leads to positive attitudes – which, in turn, lead to a better learning atmosphere.