GOSHEN COUNTY - The Goshen County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees discussed the merits and drawbacks of mandatory drug testing for seventh-grade through senior students involved in extracurricular activities at a regular meeting July 9.
On one hand, Trustees said, GCSD budgets $20,000 annually for student drug testing, and in the face of increased budget constraints, suspending the program would save the district money.
“I am of the opinion that it’s spending of funds we aren’t necessarily seeing a return on,” Trustee Christine Miller said, adding she’s heard of students figuring out how to test clean when they’ve used drugs. “I have concerns about that. I’m not sure it’s something I would like to see continue.”
Chair Kath Patrick mentioned the honor program, in which students pledge to remain clean.
“That is a tool that has been fairly effective . . . at least, seeing what I saw as a high-school teacher,” she said, and recommended emphasizing that program instead of urinalysis - or testing one’s urine.
Trustees speaking in favor of the current policy included Kerry Bullington, who said her husband, Mark, in his many years as a coach at Southeast Schools “sees it as a useful tool” to assist students who use drugs to get the help they need.
Ryan Clayton worried about drug use in the area growing if the testing stops.
Carlos Saucedo explained the policy is made to prevent drug use and should not be seen as a “Gotcha!” tactic.
“If (a student tests positive), we have next steps to follow,” he said, continuing to say without the policy, students are at a greater risk of engaging in negative behavior. “This could be the last step in a couple of kids’ journey, saying ‘I want to stay clean’” and falling back on the policy, Saucedo said. “I would really hate to lose it.”
Zach Miller suggested there may be less expensive alternatives to the current policy the district could explore in the future.
No action was taken on the matter.
In other business:
n The trustees began with a budget hearing, ultimately approving the document for the 2019-2020 school year. The budget reflects more than a $1 million deficit, due in part to a reduction in average daily membership (down 31.08 students from 1,669 to 1,638 projected to begin the year). Business Manager Marcy Cates also stated the cap the state has placed on special education funding has contributed to the deficit. Later, trustees also approved mill levies at 25 mill tax levy, 1 mill recreation levy, and 1/2 mill BOCES levy - 8 to 1, with Rodney Wagner the lone vote against.
n The board accepted a donation from Rafferty State Farm Insurance in the amount of $1,250 to Lingle-Fort Laramie High School for the purchase of two Pixellot cameras for broadcasting home events through the NFHS network.
n Official representatives for the Wyoming High School Activities Association for the 2019-2020 school year are as follows: Torrington High School’s Dave Plendl; LFL High School’s Mike Lashley; and Southeast High School’s Tim Williams.
n The board approved the following contracts: Peak Wellness for wrap-around services including emergency risk assessment (to self or others), individual and family counseling at the rate of $120 per hour, total contract not to exceed $5,000 from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; special education contract with Peak Wellness for emergency risk assessment (to self or others), individual counseling, and report writing at the rate of $120 per hour, total contract not to exceed $7,000 from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; Northeast Wyoming BOCES for student placement services for the 2019-2020 school year, not to exceed $236,197.50; NEWBOCES for student placement services for the 2019-2020 school year, not to exceed $159,395; Public Education and Business Coalition for Instructional Leadership Professional Development with the district administration team in the amount of $32,000; Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt for Professional Development services for new staff in Read 180 and System 44 in the amount of $5,600; and Bivens Construction for dirt work adjacent to the district track in the amount of $6,375.
n The district also approved the following purchases: $15,240.67 for Easy Tech Digital Literacy and Assessment Curriculum Licenses and Professional Development for grades kindergarten through eighth from Learning.com; $12,004 for IXL Learning Math and Language Arts Intervention Program for Trail Elementary; exceeding $5,000 for a Hustler mower from Brown Company in Torrington for the District Maintenance Department; and exceeding $5,000 for Grasshopper mower from Rose Brothers in Lingle for the District Maintenance Department.
n Student tuition rate will increase for the 2019-2020 school year to the amount of $18,113. Previous tuition rates include $17,518 for 2018-2019; $17,328 for 2017-2018; and $17,380 for 2016-2017.
n District meal prices - including breakfast and lunch - will also increase for the 2019-2020 school year by 10 cents per meal.
n Board members approved renewing the following district and building student intervention programs for the 2019-2020 school year: Learning A-Z, $9,597; Renaissance Learning, $28,740.60; Intervention Solutions Group, $13,128.38; Read Naturally, $2,990; Achieve 3000, $5,215; and ACT/ASPIRE, $26,250.
n District retiree Dick Gulisano will return as THS assistant freshmen boys’ basketball coach for the 2019-2020 school year.
n After some discussion, the board approved a request from THS to allow participation in the Bison Bonanza wrestling tournament in Cheyenne on Dec. 30, the Cabela’s Holiday basketball tournament on Dec. 27-28, and to allow all teams to practice on Dec. 26, 2019. The board expressed concerns about student-athletes practicing and competing during holiday breaks.
n In his first Superintendent’s Report, Ryan Kramer announced two recent weather events caused damage to district buildings. GCSD filed an insurance claim on roof damage in Lingle due to hail. In addition, a storage room in LaGrange experienced flooding, however the damage was “probably under any deductible problems”.
Kramer also said he is excited about the opportunity to live and work in Goshen County, and briefly touched on the issue of standardized assessments and measuring students’ success.
n The annual back-to-school in-service for all district staff is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 8 a.m. in the THS Auditorium. A barbecue will follow at noon at Torrington Middle School.
n The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Central Administration Building.