MINSTER – A new student drug testing policy approved by the Minster Local School District Board of Education at their May meeting was stopped in its tracks Monday night, when the board voted 3 to 2 to rescind their approval of the program at their meeting.
At the regular board meeting on May 16, the board had approved by 4 to 1 to enter into a contract with Grand Lake Biomedical from Perrysburg, Ohio to do random drug testing using urine samples on students in the next school year. The policy would have affected all high school students involved in extra-curricular activities in the district. The lone dissenting board member was Ted Olidges who complained the policy violated student privacy and parental authority.
Due to public concerns about the drug policy, the board set up a public meeting on May 19. Most residents at the meeting expressed concern on the scope of the testing and the consequences of having drugs detected in a student.
At the June 20 board meeting, Superintendent Brenda Boeke reported the parents who attended the May 19 meeting were largely against the new policy although students who attended the May meeting admitted there was a drug problem
After a brief discussion Monday night about whether to delay implementation of the drug policy or to simply cancel (rescind) the decision to implement the policy, the board voted to cancel the student drug testing policy. The two board members who wanted to keep the drug testing policy in place were Katrina Nixon and Rich Bruns. The three who voted to rescind the new policy were Ted Oldiges, Sandy Schultz and Nick Rentz.
After the vote, Nixon said the public participation at these meetings was the way things should be, with people coming to board meetings. Rentz concurred, saying this was how representative government worked, and that it was good to see people participating in decisions.
Several spectators in tonight’s board meeting offered their services to form a committee to form alternate plans to alert students to the dangers of drug use and abuse. Incoming Superintendent Josh Meyer was in attendance last night and announced the forming of that committee would be high on his priority list when he takes over Aug. 1.
In other action, the board reviewed the student handbook. Oldiges questioned the handbook revisions regarding consequences for tardiness. Oldiges said he did not think a sixth offense for tardies/unexcused absences should result in a three day stay at Alternative School in Wapakoneta. He asked why it was added and it was explained there have been students reaching the fourth offense and one has reached the fifth so the school administration wanted an additional consequence in the event someone met the sixth offense. Oldiges thought the punishment should end at the fifth offense. As a result, the sixth offense was taken out of the handbook revision.
Increases in the costs of cyber security risk insurance were part of the financial report from school treasurer Laura Klosterman. She said there has been a significant change to the cyber security policy and so the cost of its coverage over last year has increased by $368 to $6680, based on the school’s current cyber security measures. She said the administration will be improving the school’s level of cyber security by actions such as installing new network server in the near future.
On other financial matters, Oldiges questioned the reason for purchasing additional cameras, security screens, and admin PC’s to run security screens. It was explained the cameras are to cover areas that are currently not secure. The screens are monitors to allow viewing of the cameras and the PC’s are for the administrators as the current PC’s do not allow administrators to view more than 9 cameras.
The board ultimately approved the treasurer’s report.
Junior-Senior High Principal Austin Kaylor told the board that Matthew Neikamp was the Honda-OSU STEM award recipient for the class of 2023. With receiving the award, Neikamp will have the opportunity to also apply for a $3,000 Honda scholarship at OSU.
Kaylor said of the 64 graduating seniors in the class of 2022, 29 received an honors diploma. He pointed out that 52 of the seniors were heading to a four-year college, three to a two year college and two to skills trade training.
He also announced that Danone will sponsor student recognition programs for the next year.
Elementary Principal Leanne Keller reported the incoming kindergarten class size now stands at 73, which would mean class sizes with three teachers would be 25-24-24. In comparison, nine other area school districts class size is 15.5 to 21.3.
At the end of the meeting, the board went into a planned executive session and upon returning to regular session revealed they had voted unanimously to create an additional kindergarten section. They also rearranged positions to create a full time grade three teaching position, a half time literacy coach and half time library aide position.
The next board of education meeting is Monday, July 18.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.