Tyrone School Board debates scope of Drug Testing

Tyrone School Board president Lee Stover addressed the Board of Directors and the interested people who attended last night’s forum on the Tyrone Schools Drug Testing policy and said, “There will be a drug testing policy in our schools.”
Eighteen people in the Tyrone community attended a forum to discuss the proposed Drug Testing policy for extracurricular activities in the Tyrone Area School District.
Everyone who took time to speak at the open forum spoke in favor of testing for drug use, the debate is over the penalties.
On the floor are two possible actions for the first offense.
Action One: “The student with a first offense will be suspended from participation/competition for a period of 50 percent of the contests or events based on the regular season of that activity. If there is not 50 percent of that season remaining, the percentage of the suspension not served shall be recalculated with the remainder of suspension carried out for the same activity during the ensuing year.”
Action Two: “The student participant with a first offense will be suspended from participation and attendance until a negative test is achieved. A student participant with a positive test result may request to be tested on the next random test date or schedule his or her own test with the district approved vendor at his or her expense. However, that testing will occur in the school setting and follow school guidelines. Sufficient time should be given between tests for the body to cleanse itself. If a succeeding test following the confirmation test is also deemed positive, this will be considered a second offense.”
After listening to the comments of the people in attendance and continued debate after the public forum, the Tyrone School administration and Board of Directors still have a lot of researching to do.
There most likely will be a special board meeting with the school solicitor Cynthia Yeager present to discuss the legal ramifications and options for the Board.
High School Principal Rebecca Erb made an impassioned plea to the audience.
“If we would have had this policy in place last year or even two years ago, we could have helped some kids not get hooked on drugs,” Erb said. “With the ability to test, we will have the ability to get these kids help, get their parents involved and provide the help necessary.”
The Altoona School District has had a drug testing policy in place for their athletes for two years. Athletic Director Tony Yaniello, said the program is a success.
“I talked with a lot of people in Altoona,” said Yaniello. “They feel that their policy is one of the best things that has happened at their school.”
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William Miller, spoke of the fact that this policy is to help, not hurt the kids.
“Our goal is to provide help when it is needed,” said Miller. “This will not change their academic status. The testing would be random and confidential. The only people who would know would be the administration, the student, the parents, the principal and when it applies the athletic director. We aren’t turning over results to the police. When there is a positive test, it will be handled in strict confidence.”
The debate will continue and The Daily Herald will bring you all the information.
In other school board news, due to the Pennsylvania State Budget mandate, the Tyrone School Board re-opened its 2002-03 Budget and made three changes to the budget.
First, it increased the Basic Education Subsidy to $7,578,192. The new figure is an increase of $80,617 over the earlier budget figures.
Second, the Board passed a decrease in Rentals and Sinking Fund State reimbursement by $169,881 to reflect the reduction in permanent reimbursement rate. This includes overpayments received in prior years.
Last, it decreased in transfer to the capital reserve fund from $450,000 to $400,000.
The budget changes passed unanimously.
The 2002-03 Budget was based on an one percent increase in State funding, and the Tyrone School District will receive 2.1 percent after the Governor signed the 2003 State budget into law.
The board approved the hiring of Jessica Black as a first grade teacher, Renee Jamison as a half time pre-school teacher, Cindy Winters and Jennifer Haven as full time elementary substitute teachers, and Karen Gilliland as a full time substitute elementary physical education teacher.
The board abolished the physical education exemption for grade 12 and eliminated all student crossing guards for the 2002-03 school year.
The board will hold its regular August work session August 6 and their regular meeting on August 13 in the Board Room at the Tyrone Elementary School.