Pubdate: Thu, 01 Mar 2018
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Vancouver Courier
Author: Tracy Sherlock



As Canada is poised to legalize the recreational use of marijuana,
readers might wonder how schools will handle the change. Will kids be
legally toking up on school grounds? Will skunky smells be wafting
down the halls?

Definitely not.

First off, it's important to note that when the recreational use of
marijuana is legalized, probably later this year, it will still be
illegal for minors to use or possess pot. In that regard, things won't
change in schools.

Secondly, even with a medical marijuana prescription, kids won't be
allowed to smoke on school grounds. Smoking is prohibited on school
grounds and it will continue to be prohibited, the Vancouver School
Board's associate superintended Jody Langlois said in a statement.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since the beginning of this

"If medical marijuana was prescribed in a way that necessitated it
being administered during the school day, as with all prescribed
medications, VSB's Student Support Services would develop, with
families and medical professionals, Individualized Education Plans to
determine the best course of action to meet the student's needs,"
Langlois said.

When medically needed during school, support staff or administrators
sometimes do give students prescription medications, the VSB's policy
on administering medicines says. Usually, those staff will have been
given specific training about the medications and how to administer
them. So, it is theoretically possible that school staff could be
responsible for administering medical marijuana, if it is prescribed
and required during school hours.

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced some rules
about how it will handle the upcoming legalization of recreational pot
use. In general, recreational pot-smoking will be allowed in public
spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted, with the
exception of areas frequented by children like beaches, parks and
playgrounds, where it won't be allowed. Pot smoking will not be
allowed in cars, for passengers or drivers.

If students are caught using marijuana for recreational purposes at a
school event after it is legalized in Canada, the same rules as now
will apply because recreational marijuana will still be illegal for

The VSB code of conduct says students are responsible for "not
attending school or school functions while in possession of or while
under the influence of any intoxicating, banned or controlled
substances; (and)Â…not smoking any substance, nor use vaporizers or
e-cigarettes on school and other district property."

If those rules are broken, the school deals with it, according to
policies and procedures that are in place, Langlois said.

Vancouver schools try to do proactive drug and alcohol prevention
through their SACY (School Age Children and Youth) program, which aims
to "enhance the prevention and brief intervention infrastructure in
VSB schools and surrounding community to prevent substance use, delay
substance use and reduce substance use related problems."

The program is a partnership between the VSB and Vancouver Coastal
Health, working with the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police
Department, the University of British Columbia and the Centre for
Addictions Research of B.C.

Questionable savings

In other VSB news, the district has posted an update to its financial
situation for this school year. It shows $1.1 million in savings in
the teacher on call budget and $6.1 million in savings from hiring
less experienced (and therefore less expensive) teachers. Parents and
teachers have been complaining all year that when a teacher is sick,
they are not being replaced. What happens instead is that a
non-enrolling teacher, such as a librarian or a resource teacher, is
pulled in to cover the class instead. But that means the children
don't get their library time, or special needs students don't get the
resource help they need. The $1.1-million budget savings is the direct
result of not replacing teachers when they are away sick. The VSB's
documents say it's due to the shortage of teachers on call, but others
might question whether the district prefers to have fewer teachers on
call so that it saves money.

District administration is up by $2 million, due to staff turnover,
the temporary superintendent, increased legal costs and new software.
But the cost of benefits fell by $1.1 million, due to the decrease in
Medical Services Plan premiums.

The public will find out what's in store for the 2018-19 school year
on April 17, when the district releases its budget. It's always an
interesting process at VSB and this year promises to be no different.
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MAP posted-by: Matt