Schools approve drug testing

LISBON – The Lisbon school district will renew its drug-testing program and online school for a third year after the board voted to do so at this week’s meeting.

Implemented at the start of the 2012-13 school year, the policy requires all student participating in sports to be tested for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and tobacco, among other things. Students participating in non-athletic activities are subject to random tests, with 20 percent chosen during the testing period. Athletes are also to be included in the random testing.

Anyone testing positive is allowed to continue participating if they enroll in a treatment/counseling program and stay clean. A third violation results in a one-year suspension from participation, and fourth violation will result in a permanent ban.

Superintendent Don Thompson told the board they have been pleased with the program, especially its emphasis on treatment over punishment.

Lisbon’s online school was begun the same year in an attempt to stop the loss of students to cyber schools and the state funding that goes with them – $5,700 per student.

Online coordinator Jim Watt reported at the April board meeting that of the 27 students who started the year enrolled in the program, only four withdrew. Approximately 26 students completed the online school the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of Lisbon students attending other cyber schools has dropped from 61 to 15 over the past several years.

Lisbon’s online school is being expanded this upcoming year to include an elementary school curriculum because they have 14 elementary school students currently enrolled in other cyber schools.

Thompson said the online school is paying off all the way around, noting it costs $30,00 to $35,000 per year, which includes the portion of Watt’s salary counted towards the program. Retaining 23 students resulted in an additional $131,110 in state funding for the district that would have likely gone to another cyber school.

In other action, the board formally agreed to join with three other school districts to share bus services, starting this fall. The other districts are Beaver Local, the county Educational Service Center and the county Board of Developmental Disabilities. Thompson said joining with the others to share dispatching and other services is expected to save the district $10,000 per year.

The board also awarded the following head coaching contracts for the fall sports season: football, Jim Tsilimos; volleyball, Cara Nyardy; golf, Jason Thompson; cross country, Jim Watt.

Thompson said Watt is the only new addition, and he replaces Kathy Randolph, who took a job in the Southern Local school district.

Schools approve drug testing

COLUMBIANA – Beginning next year, Columbiana high school students in extracurriculars will be subject to drug testing.

The board of education put its final stamp of approval on the program this week. Drug testing began being discussed among the board at the close of last year following a presentation by Great Lakes Biomedical.

The company was brought in at the suggestion of Superintendent Don Mook, who has said the intention is not to come down hard on students, but give them another reason to say no to drugs.

Under the program all extracurricular students will be tested on a specific date, which they will know. Random tests will be administered following that.

The district has agreed to spend only up to $9,000 for the drug testing through Great Lakes Biomedical for the school year. The company was also selected by the Lisbon School District for its drug testing in June of 2012 and the South Range School District in May of this year.

The program offered by Great Lakes allows for student self-referrals, which is when a student admits to drug use prior to being tested. A student will not be penalized for self-referrals, although they may only do that twice during their high school years.

Students must sign consent forms before testing, and if they refuse, they will not be able to participate in the desired extracurricular activities. Test results will remain confidential and will not be included on any permanent record, with positive results shared with the student’s parent(s)/guardian first and then a designated school official. The student will then be sent to counseling and also automatically participate in the next five drug tests.

Prescription medications will not count against a student and parents have the option to challenge positive results. The testing will also not impede any student’s progress toward graduation.

Mook said the intent of the program is to intervene.

“The key is to give kids a reason to say no. Parents need to know if this is happening. The only way they can help their child is if they know. It moves us away from zero tolerance, which is probably what everybody needs to get away from,” Mook said.

While drug use has always been a problem not only in the county but the nation, it is now becoming a “relevant problem” for school districts, as its popularity increases, he added.

The district will evaluate the program in its first year and make changes in the future if they are necessary, he said.

In other business, the board heard from Wendy Pancake and Shawn Kramer who urged them to reconsider a one year leave of absence for teacher Darcy Quinlan who has been offered a full ride scholarship to Slipper Rock University to earn a master’s degree in adaptive physical education.

Pancake said Quinlan requested the absence but it was denied by Mook, which she believed was on the basis that sabbatical leave is not given to teachers until they have reached five years employment.

“I know in the contract there is a section that talks about other leaves that could be granted … I am asking you to reconsider. Miss. Quinlan has been a good role model. She has been there for the students whenever they need her,” Pancake said.

She then read a letter written by her daughter who graduated this year and played on the soccer team Quinlan coached.

“She not only taught us the game of soccer. She taught us skills,” she wrote.

Pancake said Quinlan’s additional education will be a benefit to the district, which added to its multi-handicapped unit two years ago.

“The opportunity she has been given … could be a huge opportunity for our school,” she said.

Kramer, whose son was also coached by Quinlan, agreed that if the district loses her by not allowing the leave of absence it will be a mistake.

“Losing her at Columbiana would be detrimental to the school system,” he said.

The board did not act on the matter, although it did award a one-year supplemental contract to Quinlan for Head Varsity Girls Soccer Coach for the 2014-15 school year.

One year supplementals were also awarded to:

– Erin Heasley, athletic director and outdoor athletic facilities manager, Larry Baughman, assistant athletic director/ticket manager, Brock Miller, football middle school coach, Nancy Tirpak, seventh-grade volleyball coach, Brandi Brown, eighth-grade volleyball coach, Greg Kibler, head cross country coach, Robert Spaite, head varsity football coach, Ernie Yacovone, head varsity boys soccer coach, Ron Moschella, head varsity girls basketball coach, and Chris Canale, head high school wrestling coach.

The next board meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. July 8.