Whitesburg KY

Jenkins schools will join in countywide drug-test program

TheJenkins Independent Board of Education has agreed to participate in a countywide drug-testing program for students.

The unanimous vote to participate in the program came during a special meeting held in response to a request from Melissa Sturgill, program coordinator of the Letcher County Prevention Project, that the board agree to participate in a grant program which will help Jenkins schools with the costs and procedures of testing students. The deadline for applying for the grant is March 18. Sturgill said the Letcher County School System is also participating in the program.

Several board members told Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. they felt the school’s policy should extend to testing staff as well as students. Narramore said the board’s actual policy can be fine tuned during the waiting period between now and when the grant is actually awarded, but reminded the board that new policies must be in place by the beginning of the new school year in August. Districts who are chosen for funding won’t learn of their selection until September.

Board Member Paul Stambaugh said he would favor seeing testing expanded to include staff and faculty members as a matter of fairness.

“If you are going to test kids, you have to do it to staff , too,” said Stambaugh.

Narramore said the district already tests newly hired teachers and certified workers in compliance with Kentucky state law, and Superintendent Deborah Watts added that random testing of bus drivers is also a state law.

Board Vice-Chairman Tracy Goff said that testing staff and faculty had been the biggest source of dissention during discussions over previous drug-testing policy and added that the real problem had been what steps to take if a staff member tests positive. Board member Eileen Sanders said there had been a series of steps including probation, treatment, re-testing and eventual re-instatement or termination.

Narramore also said that when the grant ends, the board would have to assume the entire cost of the program. Goff said he favored participating for the period funded by the grant, with the issue to be addressed again when grant money is no longer available.

The board also voted during last week’s special meeting to implement “Project Prom,” which will allow the school gym to be used to for an after-prom lock-in, all-night party. Jenkins Middle High School Principal Lisa Carroll presented the request and told the board the after-prom lock-ins had been held in previous years but hadn’t been done for a while. She said students will be locked in for the night and will only be released with their parents’ permission. Students who do leave will not be allowed to come back in.

The board also voted to allow for the initial development of a middle school volleyball team with the provision that Jenkins High School Volleyball Coach April Charles take the program “under her umbrella” as coach. This will allow MHS art teacher Gina Maggard to serve as a volunteer coach with no salary for the remainder of the school year.Th

e board also voted to allow the eighth grade class to take a weekend class trip to Washington, D.C., provided it can be scheduled so that a minimum of school will be missed and the trip can be paid for by fund raising efforts conducted by eighth graders and their parents. The trip will take place after testing is completed, and students will only be absent on the Friday of the trip. Several board members expressed concern about allowing the younger students to go on a trip, and Goff and Narramore also questioned the timing of the request.

Principal Carroll said the trip and fund-raising projects had been discussed by parent and teacher groups, but she had not brought the plan to the board until she had the exact details. She also said she thought the students would do well on the trip and assured the board they will be well chaperoned.

“Lots of eighth grades take this trip,” said Carroll. “We can use it later in several areas of study. I think it’s appropriate at the eighth grade level, particularly with missing only one day of school.”

The trip will cost $437 per student and will include a chartered bus with restrooms, overnight accommodations and breakfast and dinner for each day. Fund raising activities consisting of selling cookie dough, picture packages, and conducting a spring beauty pageant were also approved. Carroll said 53 students had said they wanted to go and three said they did not wish to participate. There will also be five chaperones. Narramore asked Carroll if parents of participating students were aware that board policy states that if fund-raising efforts did not provide enough money for every student who wants to go, they will have to make up the difference.

“No eighth grader who wants to go will be refused,” said Narramore. “Everybody is eligible or nobody is.”

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