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District takes tough stance on abuses of MySpace site

Updated: 12/11/07 7:04 AM

Superintendent Robert W. Christmann said Monday night that the Grand Island School District is taking a tough stance on students harassing one another through a popular social-networking Web site.

“We have laid out concerns that administrators have about MySpace.com [in previous meetings], but it should be made clear,” Christmann said to an audience at a Grand Island School Board meeting that included a small crowd of high school students. “There are some nasty things being written, published on [MySpace]. . . . It will not be tolerated.”

Several teachers and staff members in the district have informed administrators of confrontations between students that started, or were escalated by, messages and “bulletins” posted on students’ personalized MySpace pages, Christmann said.

He said the district will enforce its harassment policies if it learns of students posting confrontational or degrading messages on the site, regardless of whether it occurred on, or involves, the schools.

“We’re trying to get the message out to parents also, that if you see something that’s beyond normal discussion on that site or others like it, let us know. Students, too, if you’re subject to that, you do not need to put up with it.”

In another matter, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Loraine A. Ingrasci presented a list of “major impact items” that could increase the district’s 2008-09 budget by nearly $2.9 million, or more than 6 percent.

While less than the increases seen in last year’s budget, health insurance, salary raises, workers’ compensation and other obligatory contributions make up the largest parts of the potential increases. Health insurance makes up the largest dollar increase, at $1.2 million, and it could go higher, as estimates from June pegged the amount 10 percent higher.

“I would summarize this by saying it’s not a pretty picture,” Christmann said. “Budgeting up to $2 million [more] in the categories you have no control over, . . . it’s not going to be a lot of fun this year.”

Ingrasci said an estimate of a total budget amount was not available Monday night.