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Ridgefield High Schoolers Propose Open Campus

An open campus would allow students to leave and return to campus during unassigned periods of 90 minutes or more -- currently, students are allowed to arrive late or leave early from school if they have free periods at those times.

Ridgefield High Schoolers Propose Open Campus

Principal Jeffrey Jaslow said the idea of an open campus has been floating around for a while, but it's always died out before the complete Board of Education approval.

So this is as far as it's ever gotten.

Students, teachers and members of the administration stood before the school board Monday night to propose officially the open campus, one in which high school seniors would be allowed to leave and return to the school when they have a free slot in their schedules.

The board seemed conducive to the idea, and the details provided by student representatives Sam Gravitte and Allie Schiffer proved thorough and comprehensive.

School Superintendent Deborah Low commended the students' efforts.

"The students and faculty have done an excellent job in putting together the proposal," Low said, "no matter the outcome."

The board didn't vote Monday but discussed the possibility of an open campus.

"Every year," high school Principal Jeffrey Jaslow said, "students ask, 'What about open campus?'"

"I tell them they need to come up with a thoughtful proposal, and it hasn't gone very far," Jaslow continued, "but this year, the students followed through."

An open campus would allow students to leave and return to campus during unassigned periods of 90 minutes or more -- currently, students are allowed to arrive late or leave early from school if they have free periods at those times.

Student President Schiffer said the additional freedom would encourage responsibility and accountability, as well as maturity and independence.

"We see this as an opportunity to encourage responsibility," Schiffer said, "not to encourage negative behavior."

The permission for open campus privileges would depend on a number of factors, including parental approval, a minimum GPA of 2.5, senior status and a minimum number of tardies and unexcused absences.

"There will be clear protocol and consequences," Gravitte said. "We need to treat each student on an individual level rather than apply blanket policies."

Student Life Coordinator Emily Kilbourn supported the students' efforts philosophically.

"This moves us from a punitive model to an incentive model," Kilbourn said. "Students meet a certain standard of excellence and get something in return."

Members of the Board showed concerns for the "worst case scenario" of a student getting hurt or in trouble off campus, and supporters of the cause assured that careful records would be kept students would always be accounted for.

The Board of Education will likely vote on the matter in the middle of May during the next scheduled meeting.

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