Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Winton Woods schools restrict book bags

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FOREST PARK — Winton Woods school parents have another item to add to their back-to-school shopping list.

        The Winton Woods City Schools Board of Education has voted to allow only clear or mesh book bags in all schools because of safety concerns.

        Also banned are roller suitcases that are popular with elementary kids.

        Size restrictions have been added, as well.

        Book bags in elementary schools can be no larger than 12 by 12 by 6. The maximum size at the middle and high schools is 20 by 16 by 14.

        Book bags must be stored in lockers during the day.

        The policy is effective Aug. 29, the first day of school, but schools will allow a grace period until Oct. 1.

        Book bags became an issue in March when a student scrawled a threat on a boys' bathroom wall at Winton Woods High School. “We took it very seriously,” said John Pennycuff, board president. “That was the event that said we best do something now.”

        Superintendent Thomas Richey banned all book bags at the high school for the rest of the school year.

        He then assembled a committee of educators, parents and students to recommend a book bag policy.

        The board held a special meeting July 26 to discuss the committee's findings.

        “We found some things we expected to find and some things we didn't expect to find,” Mr. Pennycuff said. “We found that small kids who were using these suitcases on rollers turned out to be a major safety problem. They were tripping over each other, especially getting off school buses.”

        Board members also worry about potential back injuries to students who tote heavy book bags all day. After the superintendent banned book bags last year, Mr. Pennycuff said, “Girls began carrying purses big enough to live out of for a week.

        “When kids have that much stuff, they drop their stuff. Even with book bags, it spills out. We're trying to help the kids learn some management of their daily lives. And we're trying to minimize the risk of things being brought to school that we don't want.”


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- Winton Woods schools restrict book bags