(SC) Summer Hunting, Boating Safety Classes For Students Proposed


January 14, 2003, 02:20 PM
Copyright 2003 McClatchy Newspapers Inc.
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

January 14, 2003 Tuesday 1ST EDITION


LENGTH: 662 words

HEADLINE: Boating, hunting classes could instill safety, board says

BYLINE: By Erica Pippins / The Herald

Hunting and spending time out on the area's lakes are two popular pastimes among some Rock Hill students, say school officials.

But they fear that several of those gaming and water enthusiasts may not be aware of the safety precautions they need to take to avoid accidents and injuries. As a result, district administrators asked Rock Hill school board members Monday to consider approving both hunting and boater education courses that would be offered to interested students in the summer.

The classes, which are designed to promote student safety when handling firearms or when on the water, would be facilitated by teachers who receive training from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Though all materials would be offered to the district at no cost, students would be charged $ 10 per course to help cover instructional fees, said Gwen Kodad, assistant superintendent of planning. "We know we have a number of students who want to get a hunting or boating license," Kodad said. "From a firearm safety point of view as well as for water safety, we see these as good courses."

In South Carolina, people born after 1979 are required to complete a hunter education program and become certified before they can purchase a hunting license. The boater education program is required for anyone who does not have a driver's license but plans to operate a boat or jet ski.

Both middle schools in Fort Mill have the hunter education course built in to the eighth-grade physical education curriculum, while the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center in the York school district offers it as part of the agricultural science program.

Most trustees seemed to favor the district's proposal.

"When I worked in the Clover school district, it was not uncommon for kids to come back from winter break who talked about the guns and knives they got for Christmas to use for hunting," said board member Mildred Douglas. "So we know it's not uncommon in this area. We do want to make sure they are handling these items safely."

While Rock Hill administrators are not recommending that the two courses be incorporated into the district's curriculum, some school board members said that both should be.

"All you need to do is go out on the lake and see the number of kids who are out there on jet skis or boats," said board member Walter Brown. "I think we need to look at these programs as more than something that would just be offered in summer school."

However, board member Ann Reid expressed some concerns over the hunter education course. She asked the administration to "proceed with caution."

"There are numerous examples of students using these skills not for sport but for taking somebody out," Reid said. "I am just concerned about the injuries that might be sustained from a child who knows how to shoot a gun and decides to open up on teachers, students and the like because they want to get revenge."

But Kodad said the class was designed to focus on firearm safety and students would not be instructed how to shoot.

"There is an optional firing range experience which is available to students only after they complete the course," Kodad said. "But this is an activity that is supervised by Sgt. Don Wagers with parental approval and is not part of the district's program. In our program there is no point where live ammunition would be active on campus."

In other business, Jim Hazel, a partner with Elliot Davis, LLC, told the school board that the district's financial audit for the fiscal year ending June, 30, 2002, was clean.

"Considering the state cuts that the school districts have gone through, we found that this district was able to weather those pretty well and the budget looks healthy," Hazel said.

The Rock Hill school board is expected to approve the 2002 audit and the hunter and boater education courses at the 7 p.m. Jan. 27 board meeting in the district office.

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