School Board Asks For Input On Drug Policy

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Posted: Friday, September 22, 2017 4:00 am

Creighton’s school board is looking for input, as it continues to look into the possibility of implementing a drug-testing policy.

At this point, the officials are just considering the options and are looking at some policies used in other districts. They ask that anyone who would like to weigh in on the subject, contact a board member or one of the school administrators.

The board opened the agenda item to public comment at its Sept. 11 meeting and, while the audience was small, the few comments made were fairly neutral. One party had concerns about the random selection process and possible ridicule of students selected for testing. Board member Colleen Farnik voiced concern about testing procedures. 

Superintendent Robby Thompson reported the school’s enrollment is currently 310, down four pupils from last year. The number breaks down to 144 elementary students, compared to 140 last year, while the number of students in grades 7-12 remains at 166.

Principal Ryon Nilson explained the Bulldog Connection Program. The mentoring program, that was initiated last year, matches up a senior with an elementary student. The students spend 15-20 minutes once a week together, within the school buildings. He said the students could spend the time on homework, playing a game or anything that would build a relationship between the students. Seniors volunteer for the program and the young students are selected by teachers or by parent request. Nearly all the seniors signed up. Teresa Kuhl is managing the program.

In answer to a question by Board President Kay Morrill, Kuhl said, “Right now we are just doing some at-risk students, students who need help with friendships.” 

Nilson also spoke about the business communication program that begins this year. He said there are four students participating in internships this year, three of them with Creighton businesses, including Burns Lumber, Creighton Lockers and a day-care facility, and one is interning with a teacher.

“It will give them some real life experiences, some real job experience, hands-on things,” he said. “I am excited about that program, I think it will be good.”

The board is investigating  use of the Beef in the Schools program. The Knox County Cattlemen had invited board members to a meeting, which Morrill attended along with board member Duane Fanta, who is a member of the organization.

The cattlemen outlined steps to promote the program to Knox County school districts, including the need for a foundation to “run” donations through for them to be tax deductible. Morrill said the Creighton Community Foundation is available to the school for the purpose. The cattlemen plan to host a grillout for school representatives and community members to explore the program further.

Farnik had reservations about the program, asking Fanta if cattle producers had already committed to donating the beef. She expressed a desire to talk with someone who is already using the program to see if there really is a cost advantage.

Morrill said the program would start with donated beef, but it would eventually be purchased, supporting the beef industry and it would save purchasing beef from the commodity program. She said one smaller school that implemented the program used just one beef for an entire year.

Thompson explained there are a number of ways to use the program, that the school wouldn’t have to serve all local beef. 

Morrill said more information will be available to board members at the upcoming meetings planned by the cattlemen.

Chuck Shefl addressed the board during the public comment period, urging the board to consider adding an industrial arts program to the curriculum and budget for it.

“With all the carpenters and construction workers we have in this town, it seems like we should have an industrial arts program,” he said. “I would really like to see it come in next year already.”

Morrill said addition of industrial arts was a popular requested on a survey of district patrons a year ago and the board is forming a Planning and Development Committee to look at it and other potential offerings. Staff and community members will be asked to join board members on the committee that will set short-term and long-term goals for the district.

The board spent some time “brainstorming” points for consideration by the Nebraska Legislature, at the request of Omaha Senator Rick Kolowski.

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