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Cole R-1 board reviews drug-testing policy

Cole R-1 board reviews drug-testing policy

May 25th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Local News

The Cole R-1 Board of Education received the district's proposed drug testing policy at Thursday's meeting at Russellville High School. The board will have a month to review the policy before a final vote at the June board meeting.

Under the proposed policy, any student who participates in an extra-curricular activity, such as sports, band and FFA, or uses the high school parking lot, will be eligible for random drug testing. The first offense will result in a 30-calendar-day suspension from their activity and use of the parking lot, and students will be tested once more before they can participate again. A second offense will result in a 60-calendar-day suspension, and a third will result in a full-year suspension. Students could also participate in an alternative 10-calendar-day first offense punishment if they attend an approved treatment program.

Testing positive in a random drug test will not impact the student's studies or grade, won't result in a school suspension and law enforcement will not be notified.

The policy would also allow for suspicion-based drug testing if students show reasonable cause for teachers or staff members to think a student is under the influence.

"This is not meant to catch and punish students," Superintendent Perry Gorrell said. "We hope we don't have to catch anybody. This is meant to be a deterrent from outside forces that impact our district."

In other business, the board unanimously approved a 5-cent increase to school lunch fees for the 2018-19 school year, putting the high school cost at the federally determined rate of $2.40 and the elementary at $2.

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The board also approved as much as $10,000 for removing asbestos materials from above the elementary school gymnasium. Gorrell said, upon inspection, he received a bid for $1,735 from Construction and Abatement Services to remove the asbestos, but it may be determined that more material needs to be removed at additional cost. The board will have to reconvene to approve any expenses that exceed $10,000.

The board was asked to consider the possibility of moving the high school softball season from the fall to spring. Gorrell said he expects the softball team to be more successful in the district they would likely compete in if they transitioned to a spring season. He recommended the team play both seasons next year and evaluate which was preferable.

Gorrell presented the 2018-19 budget preview to the board. The more than $6 million budget came out to a preliminary deficit of $67,404, which included $100,000 budgeted for an optional project to resurface the track or obtain new bleachers. Gorrell said the track should be resurfaced before the 2020 season.

He said the budget was optimistic but conservative, and he was pleased with the outcome.

The district is down one custodian and is struggling to fill the position at the $10 hourly pay rate. Gorrell said the district may need to consider raising the pay rates of hourly staff members to attract applicants.

The board also voiced support for working with other area schools so Cole R-1 can host a one-day Special Olympics basketball event for middle school students. The event would likely occur between Jan. 23-Feb. 27.