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Recruiting limits okay by them

Pinellas' new student access policy should have little impact, school officials say.

By DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writer
Published September 13, 2007


Speaking as a mother, Pinellas School Board member Janet Clark has no problem with the district's new "access to students" policy.

Approved by the board last month, the policy limits to non-instructional time the occasions when students can meet with those who want to talk to them about postsecondary career opportunities. It directly affects Clark's daughter, a Lakewood High School senior who has not yet settled on a college.

"Kids need to be in their classes," Clark said. "I think before school or after school or at lunch is plenty of time for anyone to have access to kids."

As the district crafted the new plan to give antiwar groups such as Veterans for Peace the same access to students as military recruiters, the board was careful to make sure the visits didn't cut into students' instructional time. But because the wording of the policy affects all who offer postsecondary career opportunities, it impacts college recruiters as well.

District officials say it's too soon to tell whether the new policy will make it more difficult for students to schedule time with college recruiters. The issue could be a moot point to some degree, since budget cuts to Florida's state university system will limit recruiters' travel to high school campuses.

Fewer recruiting trips

That news arrived Tuesday, just as guidance counselors had begun planning their schedules to accommodate the new rule, said Carla Baldwin, the district's guidance supervisor.

"The state universities will not be able to make the trips like they used to," Baldwin said. "We also have the new policy. But we're still going to be working to meet the needs of the students."

When School Board attorney Jim Robinson introduced the new policy to high school principals recently, he said some worried it might be burdensome for college recruiters.

"I've heard concern expressed," Robinson said. "But I have not heard there are any real-world problems."

If the policy became a "genuine issue and serious concern," Robinson said, board members could revisit it. But it's not likely that access would be granted to one group, say college recruiters, and not another group such as military recruiters, Robinson said.

"What you do for one, you have to extend to all," he said.

Patricia Brewer, a guidance counselor at St. Petersburg High School, said she is a little worried about the reduced access to college recruiters. But she thinks students still will have plenty of opportunity to talk to them in the time allotted.

"If a kid really wants to go to a certain school," Brewer said, "he'll talk to the recruiter during lunch time."

Boca Ciega High guidance counselor Joan Love said she didn't think the policy would have much impact on students at her school. Counselors there routinely schedule appointments with college recruiters during non-instructional time, she said.

And Hal Traver, former head of the guidance department at Seminole High School, said colleges offer plenty of opportunities for students to speak to them during evening sessions and at college fairs.

"I don't see this as being an end-of-the-world change," Traver said.

[Last modified September 13, 2007, 00:31:45]

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