After another lengthy discussion last week about the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom, members of the Bexley Board of Education are one step closer to adopting a policy about it.

After another lengthy discussion last week about the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom, members of the Bexley Board of Education are one step closer to adopting a policy about it.

District officials first came to the board with a proposed policy in June, and board members have been making changes since.

The proposed policy will come to the board for a fifth reading in October, but it's not known if that will be the final reading -- or if members will seek more changes.

The latest discussion and language changes focused on issues such as compliance by students who choose not to sign onto the district's network; the district's right to monitor use; acceptance by parents and guardians; and the use of social websites such as Facebook by teachers -- including dialogue on personal versus district-approved web pages.

At the start of the discussion, board member Anne Brown asked whether the district had considered banning the use of personal electronic devices in school rather than muddle through a lengthy policy aimed at controlling student use. Her question drew considerable response from fellow board members.

"We work to be visionary in our district," board Vice President Marlee Snowdon said.

Snowdon suggested that given the current climate, the technology is here to stay. She said there is an opportunity to take advantage of personal electronic devices in the educational environment, but their use must be enforced within "a positive framework."

"We need to have a structure in place to take advantage of this technology, whether we like it or not," she added.

Paul Ross, the district's technology director, agreed and said the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. He said part of encouraging the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom is educating students on how to take advantage of the technology properly.

When board member Mike Denison brought up the subject of digital equality -- whether every student will be able to participate in activities if they lack their own personal device -- Ross said, "That's something we will have to address."

Superintendent Michael Johnson indicated the district has intentions of purchasing some devices for this direct purpose.

"The intent of the policy is to be more permissive," he told board members.

He supports the use of the devices in the classroom, saying they have the potential to add to a student's educational experience.

Ross reiterated, though, that the use of the personal devices in the classroom , and their place in a particular curriculum or lesson, is solely up to the teacher. Whether devices will be used is based on teacher discretion, according to the policy's proposed language.

Ross said students as young as kindergartners carry phones to school in Bexley.

He crafted the proposed policy after consulting some 50 other similar policies across the U.S. The use of personal electronic devices in the classroom, including smartphones, iPods and iPads, is a hot topic around the country.

The district's current policy begins with the statement, "In making decisions regarding every type of user access to digital resources, services and technology networks, the Bexley City School District believes that access and appropriate use of digital resources are now fundamental to preparing productive global citizens and leaders.

"Access to digital resources enables staff and students to facilitate communications and collaboration with people around the world in support of research and learning; to explore thousands of libraries, databases, online services and other resources; and to apply information research skills to those resources."

The only time it addresses personal devices is with the statement, "All users and community users are responsible to maintain and comply with administrative procedures governing the use of personal technological devices."

The next monthly board meeting is set for Oct. 8.