The Highland Community Unit School District No. 5 Board of Education has decided to pursue no action to implement a random drug test policy at Highland High School, for the time being.
In its meeting on July 25, the board had a discussion over the possibility of implementing a random drug testing policy for non-graded extracurricular activities at HHS next school year. It was said during that meeting that the district may want to pursue a random drug test policy similar to Triad High School, where students are randomly tested and the program is paid for by increasing its athletic fee by $5. The discussion ended with the board members feeling like more research needed to be made before they took action on a policy.
Superintendent Mike Sutton contacted Hospital Sisters Health System, the parent organization of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, to see what implementing a drug testing policy might entail.
If the student were to receive the test at the hospital in Highland, each initial test would cost the district $25, according to Sutton. However, Sutton said if a test were to come back “non-negative,” the sample would have to be sent through an additional number of steps before it can be considered “positive.” This would include sending the sample to a number of different labs for confirmation testing and multiple meetings with the athlete’s parents for appeal testings.
Sutton also said, if students were to receive drug testing on the school premises, it would add a little bit more cost to the district, but not significant. However, he relayed that bringing the testing to the HHS campus would mean a large time commitment. Whether or not the school nurse preformed the test, the bathroom in the nurses office would need to be modified to ensure against cheating.
Sutton said the final verdict was that the district could implement such a policy without incurring significant cost.
“I hate to be reactionary, but I am not sure we need this policy at this point,” said Jim Gallatin, the board president.
HHS Principal Karen Gauen said that while there is an opioid epidemic going on around the country, she did not think drug use was significant at HHS. Gauen said she also spoke with the school nurse, who expressed doubts that such a policy would have the desired deterrence, since only kids in extra-curricular activities would be tested.
Board member Zachary Lewis said something along the same lines, pointing out the test might have no impact, because it might be targeting the wrong crowd.
“Kids doing drugs weren’t playing sports, they were doing drugs,” Lewis said.
Board member Robert Miller was for implementing a policy and made a motion during the board’s meeting on Aug. 28 to take further action. However, the motion failed to draw a second and died.
However, the board could still discuss and pursue action at future meetings.
Fixing a litter problem
Also at the Aug. 28 meeting, Sutton gave an update over a problem that has been plaguing the Highland High School parking lot and grandstands for a number of years.
It has come to the attention of district administrators that a large number of HHS students have become accustomed to hanging out in the school’s parking lot after hours. Though this could mean children are keeping out of trouble somewhere else, Sutton relayed that the students have been known to leave a large amount of trash in the parking lot. Jeff Williams, the director of buildings and grounds for the school district, said because of this, maintenance staff spends at least one to two hours every day cleaning up the parking lot after games.
Sutton said the district has explored a few options to encourage the kids not to litter, including placing trash cans in the lot and asking the Highland Police Department about the possibility of writing trespassing citations after school hours. But district administrators decided the best course of action would be peer encouragement.
Gauen, the principal of HHS, put the Principal’s Advisory Committee to the task.
Gauen said the PAC is a small group of senior leaders who work as a voice for students and communicate with the principal to make the school a better place. This year’s PAC has chosen to “respect” as its theme, according to Gauen, and has implemented respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the school community into helping with the litter problem.
“They’ve made announcements about their vision at each of the class meetings and have made additional announcements over the PA to encourage school-wide support,” Gauen said.
Gauen said the PAC also asked for additional trash containers for the lot, and have encouraged students to stay after games to help pick up. Williams said that the PAC’s awareness effort has had an immediate effect and was shocked after he went to check the stands after a game to find almost no trash.
Gauen said the PAC will continue to instill the message in their peers that picking up is “cool,” and HHS will continue to drive the message home as well.
“We really have great kids,” Gauen said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Overnight trips approved
The board approved two over night trips for the HHS Madrigal singers, Chamber Choir and Madrigal actors and the HHS cross country team.
The HHS singing groups will be traveling to Kansas City to perform at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. The field trip will depart on Sept. 22 and return Sept. 24. The students will be staying at the Great Wolf Lodge.
The HHS cross country team will be traveling to the First to the Finish meet in Macomb. In years past, the team would not stay overnight during this trip, but to avoid having to leave the school at 4 a.m., it was decided the team will depart on the evening of Sept. 8 and will return after the meet on Sept. 9.
Both of the trips are reccurring trips. The costs will be covered through the school’s activity account.
The board tabled the authorization of banners that would be displayed at Highland Highland School.
There were six different organizations up for banner approval. The first was HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, which donates an athletic trainer to the high school for the year and funds from physicals for supplies and other merchandise. The second organization wishing to hang a banner is National Elector and Builders, which did the work to put new play clocks at the HHS football stadium. Just4You Insurance was next on the list, on of the insurance company’s agents names a player of the gamer for varsity football. The player then receives an award, which is presented to the players parents at the next game. Turf Gator was the fifth banner request, this company donates all of the labor, mowing and supplies for the maintenance of HHS and HMS fields.
The final was a new addition. Sutton said the Highland Subway requested a banner be placed in light of the shop’s new sandwich deal. Connie Lihs, the owner of Subway, said in an email to the district the shop will donate 10 cents from every “Highland Hero” sub sold to the school district. The sub would be a turkey and pepperoni sandwich.
Board member Rene Friedel was asked to compile a tiered donation list that would pair the amount of donation with its subsequent mention at the high school. For example, a donor who gave $5,000 to the district might get a banner, whereas a donation of $500 would earn the benefactor an honorable mention in the program. The list will be presented and discussed at the next board meeting in September, and the board will decide whether or not to authorize the banners.
Kids in Christ agreement approved
The board approved a building-use contract between the district and Kids in Christ, one of the district’s latchkey programs. To run this program, the district leases space to the Highland Hope Church United Methodist Church, which gains the district between $25,000 to 35,000 a year.
Honeywell contract renewal
The board approved the renewal of a $54,988 service contract with Honeywell. Sutton said the district has received services from Honeywell for many years.
There were a few changes made in the contract to reflect new hardware work done over the summer at Highland Middle School. Besides that, the cost of the contract remains the same, with the appropriate cost of living expense added each year. It was reported that the district continues to come out ahead on the amount of work and replacement parts receive when a cost analysis was conducted.
The board approved the following resignations:
▪ Brendan Bargetzi, assistant golf team coach at Highland High School;
▪ Carrie Fischer; part-time technology teacher at Highland Middle School; and
▪ Vicky Buehne, program assistant at Highland High School, effective on Aug. 15.
The board approved the following in new personnel:
▪ James (Luke) Vallero will be a physical education teacher at Highland Elementary School and Grantfork Elementary School;
▪ Katherine Wiese will be a part-time early childhood teacher at Highland Primary School;
▪ Kay Renner will be an art teacher at Highland Primary School, Alhambra Primary School, and Grantfork Elementary School;
▪ Kristin Reed will be a part-time technology integration teacher at Highland Middle School effective on Aug. 28;
▪ Jacob Stieb will be a program assistant at Highland Middle School;
▪ Ashley Groatwill be a program assistant at Highland Elementary School;
▪ Chance “Butch” Zobrist will be a freshman football coach at Highland High School;
▪ Jeff Brauns will be an assistant golf team coach at Highland High School;
▪ Steve Lanxon will be a seasonal ground keeper for the district.
The board approved the following changes in assignments:
▪ Brendon Delaney will move from volunteer football coach to junior varsity football coach at Highland High School; and
▪ Gary Kharibian Jr. will move from assistant football coach to volunteer football coach at Highland High School.
The board approved the following leave of absence for Katie Henricks, a program assistant at Highland Middle School, effective on Oct. 3 through Nov. 7.