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Drug Testing News

Ounce of prevention ...


09/17/03
BY JESSICA LIVINGSTON

HERALD DEMOCRAT

POTTSBORO -- The School Board here took its first step towards a drug prevention program on Monday, an idea that has been held at bay for both cost and effectiveness reasons. Board members did this by approving the Shattered Dreams program.

The alcohol awareness program, established in 1998, is a three-day event where students go through the motions of a drunk driving accident. A mock-up of a crash scene on the school lawn or parking lot launches the program. Students gather to witness police procedures and investigation, emergency medical service response and treatment, and victims leaving the scene in a hearse. The re-enactment continues with the notification of the deceased's families and their reactions. The arrest, booking and trial of the drunk driver are then staged for students first-hand viewing.

Additionally, the Shattered Dreams program includes grim reapers pronouncing one student dead every 15 minutes throughout the school day. Each student symbolizes a life that is lost in the United States each year as a result of drunk driving.

Superintendent Kyle Collier said the program first struck him as a scare tactic, but after further thought, he said he felt it was more of a personalized impact model for students.

Collier said Shattered Dreams would be of no cost to the school.

A four-month discussion on the implementation of a student drug testing policy had no action at Monday's meeting.

It was described as a "personal crossroad" by Collier. He said, "I found myself vacillating between where I felt like the most benefit to our students would be in terms of spending money to help our kids."

The average cost of urinalysis is $23 per student. Collier said if approximately 50 percent of about 768 kids in the grades 7-12 student body participated in extracurricular activities, then 380 students would be eligible for testing. If 10 percent of those students were tested during each random drug test, then the district would pay $874.

Drug tests would be conducted multiple times each year.

Collier, as well as many board members, were debating whether to spend the money on student drug testing or drug awareness and education.

The board members collectively said they felt drug education and awareness would be more effective than drug testing since it would target the student body as a whole opposed to a percentage.

"Are we here to just protect kids in extracurricular programs," said Collier, "or are we here to protect every kid?"

The Board is seeking more information, as well as comparing area school drug testing policies and results, before making a decision.