MECHANIC FALLS – Elm Street School students can expect random inspections of laptop computers and the loss of privileges to use the notebooks in an attempt to halt misuse.

Principal Mary Martin explained the disciplinary actions to the School Committee Tuesday night. Responding to a question from committee member Dave Griffiths, she said some children have been disciplined for misusing the Apple iBook laptop computers that have been provided to seventh-grade students. Martin said violations of policies related to use of the laptops included downloading prohibited software that includes instant messenger programs and computer games.

The laptop privileges for those students were suspended and the parents were notified. She said three students lost their privileges until after April vacation and four lost them for the remainder of the school year.

“We’ve also upped our filter so students can’t be adding things they shouldn’t be adding,” Martin said.

In other business, Superintendent Dr. Robert Wall said a draft of the fiscal year 2004 budget that was revised April 1 puts the mill rate increase for education at 0.65 mills. The increase is $55,289.82. A final draft of the budget will be presented to voters at the annual town meeting May 20.

In another matter, the committee discussed existing policy that permits small purchases to be made without purchase orders.

“Our budget is tight. I think everything should go through purchase orders,” said Chairperson Terri Arsenault.

Martin said she sees every purchase order for supplies for her school. She said that while policy requires purchase orders prior to buying supplies, there is a procedure for reimbursement if a staff member makes a purchase.

Because of diminishing resources, the School Committee and the Union 29 administration on March 11 discussed ways to reduce costs. They considered consolidating purchasing with other school districts.

In other business, the committee accepted the retirement of physical education teacher Ken Grant. He has been on a leave of absence for one year.

Resignations were accepted from sixth-grade teacher Amy Bonenfant and custodian Roger Arris.

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