Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 2, 2014

Mid-Prairie gets drug facts

By Mary Zielinski | Feb 13, 2013

WELLMAN — Alcohol, tobacco and drug use among Mid-Prairie students ranges from 1 to 9 percent in grades six, eight and 11, is lower than in many other schools, the Mid-Prairie (M-P) Board learned Monday.  The findings are from the Youth Survey done in 2005, 2008 and 2010 that showed some drops in alcohol, tobacco and drug use among students.  However, marijuana use remained at 3 percent in 2008 and 2010 and amphetamines returned at 1 percent in 2010 after no reported used in 2008.
The figures were part of a detailed presentation about the district’s drug and alcohol use prevention program that involves coordinator efforts among staff, parents and community.  A key provision is awareness and discussion, presenters noted, especially as synthetic drug use is increasing nationwide and with them, deaths and injuries.
The problem with such drugs, it was explained, is that they are not illegal, in the sense that drug makers simply replace a banned synthetic compound with a new formula not yet known to authorities.  As a result, products with street names of K2, Spice, Bath Salts have a huge variance in contents and amounts in the attempt to mirror the effects of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.  Even more, many of these are sold over the counter in convenience stores, gas stations and tobacco shops, especially in Illinois, the board was told.
The district has and is providing teacher training to aid staff in noticing and dealing with the drugs that also include misuse of prescription drugs (which a student was not prescribed), something that arose at M-P in 2008 and has remained at 3 percent.
The district also has consulted with the county Public Health Service, said Superintendent Mark Schneider, noting that the Mid-Prairie situation is “no worse or better than any other.”
However, he stressed, the district wants to make it better, especially by improving communication about possible problems at all levels and offering parent education of what to look for and how to react.
A critical issue, he noted, is how unavailable treatments (for drug addition) are here and “how frustrated everyone is” about it.
The survey showed that any drug use at M-P came in at 7 percent, compared to 12 in other schools; alcohol at 9 percent, compared to 16 elsewhere and tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, smokeless), 7 percent, compared to 10 elsewhere.
There were some district parents who brought concerns about drug use, availability of them and how often those found with them are back shortly after being caught.  Even more, concerns were voiced about students reporting drug use only to suffer from “bullying” and “backlash” from other students, and that those reported never experience any consequences from their actions.
Staff members stressed that efforts are continuing.
In other business, the board:
• heard a presentation from Mid-Prairie faculty members about using Chromebooks  (and iPads) at all subject levels, a plan that will involve seeking grant funds, especially from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) to finance the $64,070 project called “a gateway to the world.”  Board members agreed the project is worthwhile and will support grant applications as well as a district allocation;
• approved the 2013-14 academic calendar with classes starting Aug. 20 and ending May 29, 1014;
• deferred action on a five-year lease with Wellman for use of the former senior dining site for the district’s Alternative Learning Center.  The board is willing to do a five-year lease if there is a provision to possibly end it after three since the district plans a major improvement project in 2014 that will include a permanent site for the ALC;
• approved hiring a special education associate for the Kalona Elementary School, and
• approved a time line series of steps to fill the three principal vacancies created by the retirements of the high school, middle school and elementary school principals.  Plans call for the high-school position to be filled at the end of March, the middle school in mid-April and the elementary (which involves two schools but one principal) by May 1.

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