Voluntary drug testing policy to be implemented at Westwood High
The Board of Trustees for the Westwood Unified School District approved the Westwood High Voluntary Drug Testing Policy Wednesday, Feb. 14 during the regular monthly meeting.
Henry Bietz, district superintendent and principal at Westwood High, said the policy was based on staff input and policies from other high schools, which were compiled according to research.
He said a drug and alcohol free campus was part of ongoing efforts for school safety that every district was supposed to achieve.
Lou Istrice, principal of Fletcher Walker Elementary, said if a district professes to be against drug use it should have a drug testing policy in place.
Phil Bryant, the athletic director at Westwood High, also supported the policy. He said it gave students who wanted to participate in extracurricular activities a reason to say no when urged to drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs.
“It’s not who we can ‘get’ but who we can help,” he stated.
The district will contract with a company for the testing and students in extracurricular activities will be selected randomly via computer. The times set for testing will be random as well.
All four board members present voted to approve the policy after a lengthy discussion. They included Shirley Barber, Nick Ceaglio, Christy Cox and Dawn Lee.
However, approval of continuing the current class configuration with grades eight through 12 on the Westwood High campus and grades kindergarten through seventh at Fletcher Walker Elementary met with board resistance.
Barber and Cox said they were opposed to keeping the eighth-grade at Westwood High, even though Bietz offered a multitude of reasons why he thought this class configuration should continue for at least one more year.
He cited staffing issues, financing and educational services for students as three of the main reasons. Also, he said it kept the two school sites balanced.
Barber said she had spoken to several parents who did not want their child mixing with the more mature students at the high school. Bietz said he had received letters from one staff member and three parents opposed to his recommendations.
Istrice said teachers and administrators at Fletcher Walker were still attempting to meet the needs of students in a grade K-7 school and analyzing and addressing weaknesses. This was the first year for this new class configuration within the Westwood School District. The sixth-grade students remained at Fletcher Walker instead of graduating in 2006 and moving to the Westwood High campus.
Rather than push for a vote, Bietz suggested the board table the proposal until the March meeting so he could provide more information on the issue during closed session.
During the informational portion of the meeting Bietz told the board the After School Program would be run by the Westwood Family Resource Center. They would receive the money allocated for the program from the State and create the activities and provide the over-site in conjunction with the Lassen County Office of Education.
The program should begin in March and run daily after school from 3-6 p.m. About 20-30 children were expected to participate in the program.
Jacquie Cordova, the art instructor for the Westwood School District, updated the board on discussions for the use of the Art and Music Block Grant monies from the State of California. Cordova, the music instructor, Michael Bergin, and the teachers at Red River Community Day School and Westwood Community Day School had been discussing possibilities. She said currently Jon Foy, the physical education teacher, was willing to add dance to his program.
She explained there were four disciplines to the arts including dance, music, visual arts and theatre. Westwood had art and music at both the elementary and high school. Drama was also offered as an elective to high school students. However, dance was not a regular part of the curriculum.
She did thank the board for their support of the arts telling them students who participated in these disciplines scored 50 to 100 points higher on their SAT scores.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 at the Fletcher Walker Elementary library.
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