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USD 408 reviews drug policy

Staff writer

The USD 408 Board of Education approved the budget for the 2011-12 school year Monday with a 6-1 vote Monday.

Sarah Cope was the only board member to vote against the budget. She refused to comment as to her reason for her no vote.

With the three-year average enrollment of 565.9 and a total weighted enrollment of 608.6, the general fund for the school will be $4,439,610, based on $3,780 per full time equivalent from the state. The figure of nearly $4.5 million is exaggerated because of overestimated special education weighting, Superintendent Lee Leiker said. The district budgets a higher weight for special education so it does not have to republish its budget, Leiker said.

The district’s local option budget is $1,377,498 with 49.823 mills. The district increased the mill levy by 2.922 mills but only netted an additional $14,637 with the increase. Leiker said the district expected to bring in close to $50,000 with the nearly 3-mill increase, but a decrease in assessed valuation in the district, from $30,732,458 to $29,217,905, modified the projected mill return.

“As soon as I knew the assessed valuation was going down, I knew it was going to change what we talked about in the spring,” Leiker said. “It makes the budget tighter.”

Salary increase

After a 30-minute executive session to discuss personnel, the board voted to increase the base salary for teachers and staff by $500 and add 25 cents an hour to the pay of classified staff.

They also approved a salary of $12,500 for part-time nurse Jane King.

Other actions

The board approved a Kansas Association of School Board policy review for the district. Leiker said the review will cost about $6,000. It is the first policy review for the district in 10 years, Leiker said.

A bus request for Art in the Park was approved.

The board approved payroll to

New Marion Elementary School student Jagger Miller was approved as an out-of-district student in the consent agenda.

Drug policy

With the urging of member Jan Helmer, the board discussed the district’s illegal substance policy for extra-curricular activities.

The district has randomly drug tested students participating in extra-curricular activities since 2003, former activities director Tod Gordon said. Gordon said the goal of the tests is to test 50 percent of students participating in activities.

Gordon said Middle School students are also tested but only “one or two students a year.”

“I think nowadays, what they’re catching are people using tobacco products,” Helmer said. “We can’t catch people who are drinking. There’s new marijuana you can’t test for. We’re not catching anybody doing illegal drugs and alcohol.”

Helmer said that her son had been caught using a tobacco product and had been suspended for multiple games during the spring sports season.

“We have a drug policy, why?” Helmer said.

Gordon said the reason for the policy was Kansas High School Activities Association rule.

“The student has to be in good standing,” Gordon said. “The student can’t be in trouble with the law.”

Gordon also said coaches were policing a substance abuse policy haphazardly on their own. One coach might suspend a player for multiple games and another coach may force a different athlete to run at practice for the same infraction.

“We had from A to Z policy wise,” Gordon said.

Cope said it was unfair that only students participating in extracurricular activities are tested. Fellow board member and lawyer Keith Collett said it was illegal to randomly test all the students in high school.

“It’s a constitutional right to attend school,” Collett said.

Collett wanted a more stringent test that would screen for non-prescribed prescription drugs. However, he also said the testing policy has had a negative public relations effect on the district.

“We’re the only district in the county that does it,” Collett said. “People think we’re so bad we have to test for it. We’ve set ourselves as the stoner school.”

Board member Lyle Leppke said he was leery of backing off the policy.

“We don’t want to give a perception of lower standards,” he said.

Cope suggested using police search dogs more often.

“We let them come in whenever they want to,” Collett said of police.

“They don’t have an expectation of privacy,” Collett said of students.

Leiker tabled further discussion of the policy until the next meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 12.

Last modified Aug. 17, 2011

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