There are opposing views when it comes to allowing students to have water bottles on hand throughout the school day. While school administrators, teachers and staff have become more restrictive on students having plastic bottles, some parents feel their children should be allowed more leniency.

There are opposing views when it comes to allowing students to have water bottles on hand throughout the school day. While school administrators, teachers and staff have become more restrictive on students having plastic bottles, some parents feel their children should be allowed more leniency.

Angel Hill, a parent of a student currently attending the seventh grade at KingMiddle School in Milton, believes students should be allowed to carry bottled drinks throughout the school day. 

Hill, a former Santa RosaCounty teacher, said she and her husband are satisfied with how KMS operates. However, she believes the school should consider lifting restrictions on plastic bottles.

“We really think they should take another look at this,” Hill said.

Currently, KMS students are restricted to having water bottles only during their lunch time, where students are expected to consume the drink and dispose of the container before leaving the cafeteria, according to Darren Brock, the school’s principal.

He said the issue along with many other topics will be discussed at an upcoming KMS School Advisory Council (SAC) meeting later this month. Brock said the SAC consists of community members, parents, staff and students.

“It is something we are going to look back into,” Brock said.

The SAC expects to hear the principal’s concerns on the matter and make a decision on whether the rule should be changed. Regardless of the SAC outcome, Brock said he will honor the committee’s decision.

Brock said he would make a recommendation to the SAC to allow for a few restrictions on plastic bottle usage. As an example, Brock suggests only allowing sealed bottled water to be carried on the school grounds and consumed in the school’s cafeteria.

Restrictions on bottled drinks came in response to finding students using the plastic bottles for bringing in prohibited substances to school property, he said.

“Middle school is where the kids try to experiment about who they are and find out who they are going to become and unfortunately in the past, some have made decisions that have impacted everybody,” Brock said. “They brought stuff to the school in bottles that was not appropriate for middle school kids or any school kids for that matter.”

 Brock said one incident occurred last school year when a couple of students on a school bus were punished for passing around a plastic bottle containing an alcoholic beverage.

“You are always going to have that one or two percent that is not going to follow the rules,” he said. “I continue to feel like we don’t need to punish the 98 percent for the what the one or two (percent) is doing.”

Hill agrees, adding she is comfortable with teachers inspecting any plastic containers with a suspicious substance.

Brock said school officials will allow for exceptions should a student have a medical condition or any other similar circumstance. David Sigurnjak, the principal of AvalonMiddle School, said his school has a similar stance on water bottle usage. In an email, Sigurnjak said Avalon students are allowed to use drinks with twist off caps in the school’s cafeteria.

“If a student has not finished the drink at the end of the lunch period, the drink must be placed in the garbage for disposal,” he said.

Avalon also allows students to consume sports and fruit drinks, which are available for purchase, in the school’s physical education area. Sigurnjak said these drinks are not allowed in school common areas and could be subjected to testing.

“If a student is seen in the hall or any common area with an open container they are asked to put it away or throw it away,” he said. “The student may also be subject to having an adult smell the drink to make sure it doesn’t contain something it shouldn’t.”

In general, open containers have not an been issue at Avalon, Sigurnjak said.

Hill said she plans to be further involved in her daughter’s school by attending a future SAC meeting.