“I am doing a lot of research” on random drug testing of students, superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts told Batesville Community School Corp. trustees Sept. 16.
On deciding whether or not to create a drug testing policy, BCSC President Chris Lowery said, “Personally I feel very compelled to … wait until we get more information from Dr. Roberts.”
Trustee Dr. Steve Stein said even if testing begins at some point, that should only be part of the district’s approach to lessening drug use.
Mary Rogers, Batesville, a parent of a BHS graduate and substitute teacher, said, “Thanks for continuing to strive to make Batesville community schools among the best in the state ... It’s obvious you believe in better. I have listened as you have discussed with care and conviction the many challenges that come with providing education to all students who walk through your doors.
“One of those challenges is children using illicit drugs. In spite of the best efforts of the community, we know that illicit drug use continues. My concern is that drug testing students is an unsupported, untested and arbitrary way to attempt to discourage illicit drug use among the high school population. I oppose the use of any drug testing of students ...” She asked attendees to consider other ways to encourage abstinence.
Gail Timonera, Batesville, the mother of two graduates, agreed with Rogers. “I’m not sure people in this room really understand how deep the drug problem is in the school system. I’m not sure drug testing is the answer. I think it’s very complex.” She predicted if using urine samples to test for substances begins, students will go online to learn how to evade the process.
Timonera suggested, “As you go out and search for information, I challenge you to reach out to recent graduates … who may willingly tell you” about experiences and potential solutions “that we may not think of.” Expelling students for drug use doesn’t make sense to her. “Kids doing drugs want to get out of school.”
A BHS senior said, “I think a lot of people wouldn’t like (drug testing) … I don’t think it’s a bad idea … Law enforcement as a whole needs to focus on the drug problems and not trying to bust teenagers for having a few beers. Come on, there are bigger problems going on here.”
Stein pointed out no decisions have been made about a future policy. “It’s still an open topic … we’re trying to get objective data” about whether or not drug testing decreases use.
Trustee Cindy Blessing was glad citizens spoke about the issue at the meeting, but emphasized, “We need to hear from a lot more people.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
More topics • ACT test results were received Aug. 21. In all academic subjects, the BHS average was higher than the state average. The superintendent theorized that's because educators "encourage parents to encourage kids to take rigorous courses." Lowry pointed out higher test scores directly relate to the cost of higher education. For example, a student with an ACT score of 26 and 3.7 grade-point average will save $2,000 in tuition annually at Indiana University, he said. "That's amazing." • On Sept. 13, the official count day for state funding, the BCSC student population was 2,097, up 36 or 1.7 percent from the last school year. The buildings are "pretty balanced," Roberts said: BPS, 482-79 (number of kindergarten students halved); BIS, 470; BMS, 487; BHS, 737. In February there will be another count. Mid-year graduates (14 have expressed the desire) will not be counted. Transfer students may be allowed at the beginning of second semester instead of just at the start of the first "to get a few students back" into the funding formula for the ones who graduated early. • A BCSC policy was amended. Students who reside outside of the state will not be accepted for transfer enrollment, as the state funding formula does not provide for such students. • Because the Batesville Primary School prekindergarten is now a part of the state funding formula, it will be referred to as a prekindergarten-grade 2 building, according to the superintendent. • The BCSC Athletic Council hosted an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference dinner at BHS. "Batesville was the EIAC girls all-sports champion for 2012-13," according to Roberts. "Our girls have now won it four of the last five years." East Central High School was the boys all-sports champ. • About 107 students at the primary and intermediate schools went to the farmers' market Sept. 14 to use $2 coupons that were possible because BCSC nabbed one of eight national grants to promote healthy foods. • BMS and BHS Students Taking Actions Against Negative Decisions (STAAND) met with other Ripley County school groups Sept. 9 in Versailles. Blessing, also Choices Program director, explained, "We are looking to create a peer mentor situation. Peers have a lot of influence … particularly older students to younger students." Training for a middle school youth summit is slated for February. • When Mark Fledderman resigned, former BCSC trustee Mike Bettice was appointed to the Batesville Redevelopment Commission, said Mayor Rick Fledderman. The board voted to appoint trustee Dr. Steve Stein as a nonvoting liaison between BRC and BCSC. • The Batesville United Methodist Church summer food program served 123 students in 41 families. Student volunteers unloaded trucks of food and filled bags for distribution. "They worked diligently and with good humor," wrote church committee member Nance Widdowson. • The Community Church of Greensburg/Batesville was thanked for donating pork barbecue for the Sept. 4 staff picnic attended by about 417 at Liberty Park.