Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Students involved in competitive extracurricular activities will not know
how many times Morgan County will test them for drugs this year.

Alternative school Principal Bill Hopkins Jr. said Friday the random tests
will be given between three and eight times after the school system starts
the program in September or October. He estimated that it will cost between
$9,000 and $24,000, depending how many times the system tests.

"This gives us flexibility," Hopkins said. "It allows us to make sure the
money is there."

Superintendent Don Murphy said he discussed the idea with the drug-testing
companies that want the contract.

"They thought it was an excellent idea to allow a leeway," Murphy said.
"This could help as another deterrent because the students don't know when
we're going to test, and that's what I want to accomplish with this

$25 to $30 per test

Hopkins, a member of a drug-testing committee, said proposals from the
testing companies range from $25 to $30 per test. Company representatives
will present their proposals at the Aug. 14 school board meeting.

Phil Hastings, supervisor of safety and alternative education for Decatur
City Schools, said his system spent $16,000 during the past school year on
drug tests but its new program started in October, two months into the year.
He estimated that program could cost $25,000 for a full year.

Unlike Decatur and Hartselle, Morgan County will save money by not testing
students for tobacco use.

The county's plan calls for 5 percent of each school's students
participating in competitive extracurricular activities to be tested.
Hopkins estimated the school system has about 3,500 high school students and
150 would be tested during each round.

Morgan's test schedule is different from Decatur's and Hartselle's. Decatur
has random monthly tests of students involved in competitive extracurricular
activities, while Hartselle last year tested all students involved in
extracurricular activities at the start of the school year and then had
random testing.

Hopkins said the testing companies are having difficulty developing plans to
meet Morgan County's requirement to test at all five high schools at the
same time.

"Some companies just don't have enough personnel to go to so many schools at
one time," Hopkins said.
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