South Range BOE to review drug testing, fee policy

BEAVER TOWNSHIP- The South Range school board Monday night received changes to the board policy to consider for approval at its May meeting, including drug testing and participation fees for middle and high school athletics and extracurricular activities.

Schools Superintendent Dennis Dunham presented the policy changes for board members to review, both issues having been discussed at length prior to being drafted for approval.

According to Dunham, the drug and alcohol testing will be used beginning Aug. 1 to promote the health and safety of students and undermine peer pressure.

“It’s one more opportunity for students to say ‘no,’” he said.

A policy and guidelines for the testing have already been prepared, Dunham said.

The testing will be used for all students participating in athletics at the middle and high school levels and for all students participating in extracurricular activities or applying for a parking permit at the high school level. Random testing will also be conducted throughout the year.

The testing will be funded through donations from private individuals at no cost to the district.

In the event of a violation the penalties range from suspension from 10 percent of games for the first offense to a year suspension from games for a third offense for athletics; completion of an assessment program and two-week activity suspension for the first offense to permanent exclusion for a third offense for extracurriculars; and one month revocation for the first offense and one-year ban for a third offense for parking permits.

Board member Ralph Wince emphasized that the testing is an attempt to help students battle drug temptation.

“We’re not trying to find out who is using,” he said. “We want to use [the testing] as an avenue to discourage kids (from using drugs).”

Participation fees

Dunham said the participation fees are aimed at reducing costs for travel and supplemental advising and coaching contracts which reach more than $60,000 and $200,000 annually, respectively. The fees should generate approximately $60,000, he said.

The fee schedule would be $100 for the year for as many sports as a student chooses, with a maximum of $175 for families with two or more students. Co- and extracurricular activities will be proportionate to the cost of travel and advising, including $40 for band, $20 for drama and choir, $40 for speech and $30 for academic challenge. As currently proposed students participating in sports and extracurricular activities would have to pay both fees.

Dunham said he is working with the school foundation and booster clubs to develop an assistance program similar to free and reduced lunch for which students will be able to apply and in which participation will be based on income.

The next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 19 in the K-12 campus band room.