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School board discusses drug testing, English class

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By Tom Wilmoth

    From drug testing to English classes, the Bedford County School Board looked at a variety of issues during its meeting last Thursday.
    During an informational item on the code of student conduct, District 6 board member Kelly Harmony suggested that the school board look at how much it would cost to test student athletes—and others involved in extracurricular activities—for drug use.
    School systems have the legal right to test students involved in extracurricular activities as well as those who drive on school property. Harmony suggested checking with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office about utilizing funds seized from drug arrests to use towards the cost of drug testing the students.
    “I would like to investigate this as a direction in which we should move,” Harmony said.
    She said not every student would have to be tested, noting that the fear of testing could help limit drug use among students.
    District 7 board member Kevin Willis said, if that step is to be taken, those on the school board as well as those who work in the school system should be held to the same standard.
    In other discussion, the school board was divided over what the meaning of a previous board action meant concerning the offering of an advanced English class at the three county high schools. Chairman Dave Vaden said he believed that action that was taken by the board on Dec. 8 meant that the class would be offered next year; District 4 board member Gary Hostutler agreed. But several board members said they believed the action on Dec. 8 simply meant that a school had the option to offer the advanced English class, if the school’s administration wanted to.
    The discussion came up during a look at the school system’s High School Program of Studies.
    Vaden said some schools didn’t include the class as an option for next year and that should be rectified with students being given the option to sign up for it if they want. Some schools offer two levels of English, a regular course or an Advanced Placement course.
    School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch said there is plenty of time to fix that issue, if the actual consensus of the board was to have the advanced English course offered at all three high schools.
    City board member Mickey VanDerwerker, however, said the decision should be left up to the schools, not the school board, as to whether the course is right for that school. She noted that Staunton River did not offer the course this year and it has worked there.
    “Not every child has to be in AP English,” Willis countered. He said if the course can be offered, it should be on the list of available courses a school presents to the students and their parents when students are signing up for the next year’s classes. “For it to be offered, I have to see it, to know that it exists,” he said.
    The three high schools plan to send home info to students to gauge interest in the advanced English class and will then evaluate if the class will be offered.