Staff Writer

Implementation of drug testing for students which will include all athletes, club members or students who drive vehicles to school, was discussed at Monday night’s Itawamba County School Board meeting.

Michele H. Floyd, board attorney, told the board that the policy being worked on would include an initial test for students in the above categories who are in grades 7 through 12. After the initial testing, there will be a yearly random testing of 25 percent of the people in those groups.

A student can also be tested when there is reasonable suspicion of drug use, either illegal or prescription overuse, she said.

“When a student tests positive, he will be forced to stop playing athletics, participating in a club or driving to school. As soon as he can test negative, he will be allowed to return to the activity. Once a student tests positive, he will be tested once per 6 months for the remainder of time he is in that school,” she said.

“Refusal to take the test will be considered a positive. Each additional positive test that a student has will increase his punishment.” Floyd said.

A mouth swab was suggested as the choice for testing because this is less invasive for the student. Floyd is working on a school policy for this and will present it for approval at the next board meeting on June 19.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from Terry Jones, regarding the need for a resource officer at Mantachie schools. During the past four years, the school was able to have an officer at the school through grants with the school board only having to supply 25 percent of money during the fourth year. Jones said he is attempting to obtain a grant from Serve Our Schools which will provide 50 percent of the cost of an officer. Jones said this money is usually earmarked for supplies; however, if he can prove extreme circumstances, the money can be used for an officer’s salary. He asked the board to supply the other 50 percent of the salary. No action was taken.

• Heard from John David Pearce regarding monies needed to complete the proposed baseball/softball complex for Mantachie School. Pearce gave an update on work already completed at the field which has been done by people in the community. Approximately $18,000 worth of work has already been done including clearing land, making a road to the field, putting in drainage ditches, hauling some 130 loads of dirt and doing backhoe and dozer work. He asked the board to allocate $220,000 to complete a nice complex. He said this amount will complete everything needed; in addition, he said there is a possibility they may have someone who will donate both the plumbing and electrical work. Pearce was supported by several members of the community including Gina Beaty, park director, who told how difficult it has been for her to provide necessary facilities for approximately 300 students using the field. Beaty said that programs are constantly expanding and it is becoming extremely difficult for her to accommodate everyone who needs the field. No action was taken.

• Accepted resignations from Mary Dickey, Chris Stevenson and Chanta Franks.

• Approved hiring of Lisa Spradlin, Mandy Lesley, Becky Strickland, Susan Garrison, Prissy Hoots, Angela Elder, Crystal Bryde and Stephanie Dutcher.

• Presented local wellness plan which will be finalized at next board meeting.

• Discussed possibility of issuing scan cards to school employees to use in checking in and out at each school.

• Stated that the school is requesting a 4 percent increase in funding from the county.

• Discussed additional positions needed including two physical education instructors, one at IAHS and one at Mantachie; counselor at Mantachie Elementary; and nurses.

• Recognized need for paint booth for class at Itawamba Vo-Tech at a cost of $20,000.

• Requested cheerleader sponsors supplement be increased to $1,000 per year.

• Approved travel for various school personnel.

• Approved fundraiser for Tremont Cheerleaders.

• Approved payment of dues to North MS Education Consortium at a cost of $500, and MSBA and Council of School Board Attorneys dues at a cost of $3,000 and $175, respectively.

• Approved Barbara Gholston and Martha Brown as substitutes.

• Approved a 25¢ increase in prices of school lunches which will raise lunch prices to $1.75.

• Approved payment of retirees’ unused leave.

• Approved leave for Susie Warren to attend conference.

• Approved payment of $300 each to Brad Miller and LaPorsha Shumpert, vo-tech students who are going to national competition.

• Agreed to provide housing for dental work in alternative school setting.

• Approved purchase of Headsprout for all special education students, grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

• Approved deletion of 2002-2003 lunch room records.

• Approved deletion of out-of-date or excess equipment at schools.

• Discussed needs for finding a technician to do water testing at Dorsey and Fairview schools. This has been done previously by a volunteer.

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