PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools administrators are trying to better track company cell phone use and some employees have opted to forgo the company phones entirely.
"We have become a little more conscious of our cell phone use," said Superintendent Bill Niday. "We are trying to be as economical as we can and make sure we are following the federal guidelines with E-Rate."
The federal E-Rate Program reimburses the school system for 60 percent of its monthly cell phone bill. The bill averages about $2,000 a month, Niday said, with the school system paying about $800 of the bill and the rest being paid through the federal program.
"That is a huge percentage of the bill," Niday said. "We want to be very careful that we are following the guidelines and using those phones only for business."
Niday said administrators reviewed proper cell phone usage and were asked to sign an agreement that outlined proper use.
"We want to make sure these are being used for business," he said. "Some people are opting now to just get personal cell phones and using those instead of the company cell phones."
Sue Woodward, spokeswoman for Wood County Schools, was one of the administrators who chose to turn in her company cell phone.
"I decided I would carry a personal one only," she said. "I didn't want there to be any thought of impropriety. I have family, some out of town and some elderly, who may need to reach me during the day. This ended up being more convenient than having the company phone."
Woodward said some other central office staff have done likewise and for similar reasons.
"We really do want to avoid any appearance of impropriety," she said. "We are taking this very seriously."
The cell phones are made available to principals, assistant principals, certain central office staff and members of the transportation and maintenance departments.
"Most of those are positions where we might need to get ahold of them at any time of the day, regardless of where they are," Niday said.
Niday said Wood County Schools has about 194 cell phones for company use. Less than half of those are being used.
"In July, we had 99 phones not in use," he said.
The district pays a monthly rental fee of about $1.15 a phone. The majority of the cost, however, is in minutes of use, Niday said.