The West Liberty-Salem Board of Education on July 18 voted to discontinue the random drug testing of students who participate in sports or co-curricular activities.
The policy has been in place for several years and was discussed extensively at the June board meeting, but there was virtually no discussion on the matter at the July 18 meeting. Superintendent Kraig Hissong’s recommendation that the district continue the policy was defeated by a 3-2 vote, with board President Chris Moell and members Patrick Adams and Chuck Buck voting no, while Kent Eichenauer and Steve Lapp voted to continue the policy.
Buck said after the meeting that continuing to randomly drug test athletes is not only expensive and arbitrary – he said one athlete was randomly selected to surrender a sample on seven occasions – but takes the teachers and the administration out of their role as educators and puts them in a position to enforce the law, with their only recourse being to suspend students who fail the drug tests. There are no mechanisms in place, Buck said, for referrals to treatment or diversion programs.
The board also received updates on the ongoing renovations of the school building from representatives from Ruscilli Construction. A list was created of items to be completed – painting, door installation, locker updates and the like — prior to the school opening its doors to students in August. It was estimated that 50 to 75 percent of the items have been completed and that additional items on the list are being completed on a daily basis. There is a concern about the ceiling tiles, however, which have yet to be hung in many parts of the school. It was explained that installing the tiles will be put on hold until spray foam insulation is applied to the ceiling. Otherwise, the board was assured that the majority of the work should be done by the end of July.
Hissong told the board members that Hilliard Glass has started installing safety windows in the school building and that he is in negotiations with two companies that either will update the existing door locks with cores already in place or will replace the door locks altogether. Hissong told the board that he estimated the cost for each lock set to be $250-$400.
The board also authorized Hissing to receive estimates for the update or repair of the gravel parking lot west of the school. The estimates are expected to be presented to the board at the August meeting.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.