News and Events

Okeechobee County School Board Finalizes New Tobacco-Free Policy for All School Properties
April 14 , 2015

Okeechobee County School District

The School Board of Okeechobee County adopted a revised tobacco-free policy for all school district properties by a 3-2 vote.

The new policy means that no student, employee, volunteer, contractor, spectator, or other school visitor can use tobacco products of any kind on campus including facilities, school grounds, and vehicles.

Tobacco products included in the new policy includes traditional products (such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco), and newer alternative products (such as synthetic tobacco and electronic cigarettes).

School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said field trips, temporary duty for employees, and district and school-sponsored events if students are present, would also be included under this new policy. For example, a chaperone for a student field trip could not use tobacco during that event. "If it is our campus, it is tobacco free," said Mr. Kenworthy, adding that the district will do their best to enforce the policy.

School Board Chairman Joe Arnold questioned the enforcement and noted that putting another responsibility on staff at football games, for example, would be hard to do. He also said he thought it might hurt the district if quality teachers opted not to apply for a job in Okeechobee County as a result of the tobacco ban.

School Board Member Jill Holcomb doubted the school district would lose quality teachers due to the ban. "I can't imagine we'll have secret smokers trying to smoke cigarettes at certain events. I'd hope if they know this is the rule, they will respect them."

School Board Member Malissa Morgan felt that proper signage and wording should generate respect of the facilities by employees, staff, parents, and spectators and helps to enforce the policy.

School Board Member Dixie Ball felt that teachers would follow the rule, but that many other would not. "You will have parents smoking where ever they want to. I'd hope they'd acknowledge when a staff member speaks to them. I just think we're making a rule we can't enforce."

The new policy was narrowly approved, with Board Members Arnold and Hall voting against the proposal.

Click here to read the new policy in its entirety.