Ferry schools join anti-drug club

MARTINS FERRY A new anti-drug program may be coming to the area.

Martins Ferry Police Chief and Belmont County Drug Task Force Commander John McFarland gave a presentation before the school board focusing on Drug Free Clubs of America, a volunteer program for high school students ninth to 12th grade.

The volunteers participate with their parents’ consent. Six times per year they will be subject to a drug test given by the staff at Drug Free America and representatives from hospitals. Tests will be about five minutes. In the event of a positive test the parents will be notified by a councilor. The authorities and school will not be informed.

Students who remain drug-free will be eligible for some rewards from the school.

Price per student is $60.

The school board motioned to provide a letter of commitment to the program. McFarland is contacting area school districts to secure their participation and the possibility that businesses might provide support. Probate Court Judge Mark Costine has offered cooperation and committed $20,000 per year.

“I don’t want to get in a position where we turn any kids away that want to participate in the program,” he said. “Everyone seems to be pretty interested.”

McFarland added that he is also comparing how the program has worked in other school districts. He noted there are approximately 3,000 high school students in the county.

“We’re at a point in time where drug addiction is terrible in Belmont County,” he said, noting the present of heroin and crystal meth in the past year, as well as ongoing abuse of prescription drugs. “If we save one kid in the process of doing this, then it’s successful.”

In other matters, Superintendent Dirk Fitch recognized Jacob Bishop and Jamie Truchan, who participated in the state track meet, and Robert Vargo who earned first-team all-state. The high school winter musical is Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

He also updated board on a new law changing the school calendar from days to hours. It will be taken to the calendar committee. No changes are expected, since the district fits within the guidelines for minimum hours. Grades K-6 are required to have nine-10 hours. The district stands at 9.95. Grades seven-12 are required to have 1,001 hours. The middle school and high school are 10.74 and 10.86 respectively. Calamity days must be taken into account. Waivers can be obtained for two-hour delays, and parent teacher conference hours are built in.

A substitute will also aide the kindergarten classes four days a week.

In matters of personnel, board approved the employment of Jim Hoover as a volunteer wrestling coach effective immediately, and Jennifer Calabrese and Matthew Carlier as substitute teachers for 2013-2014 school year.

Tomma Wells was approved as a personal education Aide. Tom Orzolek was approved as a bus driver effective Dec. 10, 2013.

Board approved maternity leave for Lori Beck.

Board approved the new grading scale for all high school level courses for the 2014-2015 school year.

Board also approved OSBA’s Legal Assistance Fund for 2014.

Board approved the 2014 Standard Mileage Rate for all school personnel beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The rate is 56 cents per mile.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com