The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors held its monthly Regular Meeting and a combined Facilities, Finance, and Policy Committees Meeting on February 16, 2015. The February 9th Work Session had been canceled due to weather.
Only five members were in attendance. The following Board Members were absent:
- Sheri Melton
- Shawna Johnson
- Brian Norris
- Leon Lapp
During the meeting, the Board approved all listed recommended action items.
Long Range Plan – Conceptual plan and future funding
Jeff Curtis, Business Manager, has looked at the existing Long Range Plan used by the Facilities Committee to, as talked about during Budget Discussions, map Long Range Funding.
Mr Curtis has recommended taking the Long Range Plan developed by the IU, and expand it from a 5 year document to a 10 or 15 year document. This snapshot will better help him create a Funding Plan to ensure we are able meet future needs.
Included in the 2014-2015 Budget was approximately $70,000 to be used for School Safety, above the cost of an Armed Security Officer. The District is looking at ballistic film for windows, camera upgrades, communication equipment, and other items. The District will prioritize these items, and make the Board aware of the final costs.
Drug Policy Discussions
The Board received an update on the discussions held with parents, coaches, teachers, and students, about the District’s existing Anti-Drug “One Strike” Policy, and the proposed Drug Testing Policy. While we touched on both topics, we were primarily focused on the District’s existing “One Strike” Policy, which is a one strike for the use of drugs or alcohol on or off school grounds.
It was generally agreed by the Board that “One Strike”, which dates back the the 80s, was inflexible and unreasonable. Dr Newcome was directed to develop a draft policy that was more comprehensive and thoughtful. The policy should make a distinction between students who come to school intoxicated or in possession, and those that act inappropriate off-campus. The policy was also vague on proof, and the new policy should increase the burden of proof for off-campus misdeeds.
One issue for a majority of the parents, coaches, and teachers who oppose the “One Strike” policy was that they believed the District should not be taking disciplinary action for actions off school grounds, and that “targeting” extracurricular activities is focusing on the wrong group of kids. However, I don’t personally believe this is the consensus of the community as a whole, of which the Board is ultimately responsible.
This also leads us to a common frustration that was expressed by students… the students who flagrantly abuse drugs and alcohol, who even boast about their substance abuse, but are in activities that require them to take a character pledge, that includes to be drug and alcohol free. Students were clearly aggravated that the “good kids” were not being held accountable.
There are several reasons that it seems the Board is focusing on extracurriculars. (1), Extracurriculars are a privilege, and the District does have the right to revoke privileges. (2) School Districts have a responsibility called in loco parentis, to act in the best interest of a child in the same way a parent would. It is in the best interest of a child to teach and enforce community standards. A parent who finds their child has acted inappropriately would commonly revoke privileges, and the School District would be acting in that same manner. (3) Athletes and others school groups are held up as an example for other students. As a result, many of these students already agree to a character pledge that prohibits certain behaviors, including drug and alcohol use on and off campus. These pledges often also include a statement that the student acknowledges they will lose their position if violated.
At the end of the day, drug and alcohol use outside of school does impact what goes on inside of school. This is a Student Health issue. This is a Student Safety issue.
~ Election 2015 ~
If not you, then who? If not now, then when? Many taxpayers are frustrated, some believing local officials have priorities misplaced or have been financially irresponsible with taxpayer money, but change only happens when people get involved.
To those thinking about or interested in running for either the Octorara Area School Board or the Parkesburg Borough Council, this is a reminder that today is the first day to circulate and file nominating petitions. The paperwork can be acquired at Voter Services, and you have until March 10th to complete it. Your name will then be on the May 19th Primary.
Just so you know how easy it is, when I decided to run for the Octorara School Board, I acquired all the signatures needed in less than 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon. I picked the paperwork up on a Friday, got the signatures on Sunday, and returned the paperwork that Monday.
Share your ideas, knowledge, and experience to benefit your community.