Pubdate: Wed, 07 Aug 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel


Hartselle Committee Chair Wants Drug Tests For All Students in 
Extracurricular Activities

HARTSELLE -- Hartselle City School officials may have to start looking for 
ways to fund drug tests for students involved in extracurricular activity.

The chairwoman of the committee the school board appointed to develop the 
drug-testing policy will recommend that every student in an extracurricular 
activity be tested at least once.

"This is a recommendation only," Chairwoman Susan Hayes said. "The board 
will ultimately decide who will do the testing."

Although the report is coming three days before school starts, 
Superintendent Lee Hartsell said the board could still implement it during 
the 2002-2003 academic year.

His only worry is the cost of implementing the program. The school system 
has lost almost $900,000 because of proration, declining sales tax 
collection and increased utilities.

Hartselle will finish 2001-2002 fiscal year with about $400,000 in the bank.

"That's one week's operating cost," Hartsell said. "We need to build this 
back up, but that decision will be made by the board."

The school board, by unanimous vote, agreed July 30 to ask the City Council 
for additional funding to help pay for the drug-testing program. The 
council already makes more than $1 million in bond payments for the school 
system and gives another $46,000 that the board uses at its discretion.

Board member Ron Abercrombie wants the testing program in place this year.

"I've been in Hartselle since 1965 and adopting the drug-testing program 
would be the most positive change since 1965," Abercrombie said.

He said the policy would change the entire community.

"This policy is not just for the school," Abercrombie said. "I think it 
will reduce drug use and that is positive for the community."

Mrs. Hayes will supply the school board a chart that recommends punishment 
for positive tests.

A student would be suspended for 30 percent of the games or activities for 
the first positive tests.

The student would also complete a school-approved counseling program and 
test negative before returning to competition or the activity.

The penalties for a second positive test are the same, but students must go 
through prolonged counseling.

The proposed policy permanently bans students who fail a third test, but 
allows them to continue with counseling.

Hartsell said he would recommend that the board hold at least one public 
hearing before adopting the policy.

"I think we need to let the parents know what is coming," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex