Broken Bow School Board Discusses Drug Testing Policy

Broken Bow School Board Discusses Drug Testing Policy
The Broken Bow School Board discusses drug testing for the upcoming school year.

BROKEN BOW – The Broken Bow School Board convened for its regular monthly meeting on Monday, resolving old issues and prompting new questions shortly before summer officially begins.

On the docket were treasury matters and insurance coverage for the preschool flood of early March, but the discussion on the school’s random drug testing policy for the upcoming school year took center stage.

Having been vetted by sponsors and coaches since the board’s previous working meeting, a primary complaint of the policy, according to Superintendent Darren Tobey, was that the thirty-day suspension from activities was too harsh for a first offense.

“Thirty days could prevent some kids from even going out for sports,” Tobey said, airing the grievances of the coaches and sponsors. “The reason is kids know they’ll be kicked off the team for half the season if they get in trouble.”

“They say it should be fifteen days instead of thirty.”

Pinching two weeks from the punishment flooded the room with a discussion of policy, degrees of offense, and the philosophy of the role of educators and administrators and their duties to the community they serve. In short: a conundrum.

“I’ve wrestled back and forth with this,” board member Tim Chancellor said, “Right, wrong, or indifferent.”

Chancellor indicated that the primary aims of the drug testing policy are as follows: The school district seeks to provide safe, substance-free schools, to deter the use of illegal and prohibited drugs, alcohol, tobacco/nicotine among students, and recognizes that students who use illegal and prohibited substances pose a threat to the health and safety of themselves, other students, teachers, administrators, and other persons.

“This is what we’re trying to do. If we agree with that, then I don’t know that fifteen days is even an argument.”

Board members proposed alternative solutions to the hard and fast thirty days, ranging from regular, random monthly testing for six months in addition to a fifteen-day suspension from activities to month-long suspensions and an effort on behalf of the student to seek help. Unsurprisingly, the item did not come to a vote, though the board plans to make a decision in its regular July meeting.

Additionally, the board moved to pay the contents of its MAP contract from the 2021 school year; Broken Bow Public Schools exceeded state goals for math and science but fell short in reading and language usage. Superintendent Tobey declined to take his MAP incentive, stating that the money could be used to further help the school.

A link to the January article regarding the MAP contract and its incentives can be found here.

Prior to the drug testing discussion, the board began the meeting by approving previous board minutes and the treasurer’s report and claims report. Treasurer J.B. Atkins said the district had about $1 million in expenditures last month with the early arrival of new computers and curriculum. Year to date, Atkins said the district is still ahead on revenue by a couple hundred thousand dollars.

A recent expense follows the early March water damage caused by an issue with a heat sensor, pipe, and sprinkler at the new preschool. The problem occurred during a severe cold snap and those still in the building after school hours called for help to stop the leak and move items to a safe location. Superintendent Tobey said more than $23,000 in damages was done with payments going toward replacing preschool supplies, building repairs, and cleanup. The board paid the $1,000 deductible and is working with insurance to be reimbursed.

Also on Monday night, the board congratulated athletes playing in all-star games and wished good luck to the FBLA and HOSA students preparing to travel for competitions this month.

The board went into an executive session for about 15 minutes to discuss a personnel matter and a real estate contract.

School breakfast and lunch will no longer be free in the coming school year but students can still apply for the free and reduced program.

The meeting adjourned at 8:32 p.m.

The next Broken Bow School Board Work Session will be on Monday, July 11 at 12 p.m. and the next regular meeting will be held on Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m.