Who should be tested?

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School board, MCHS council discuss drug-testing program

By Stevie Lowery

The Marion County Board of Education has shown its support for a drug-testing program, but how it's going to be implemented hasn't been determined yet.

According to Todd Spalding, a member of the Marion County High School site based decision-making council, teachers and staff should be tested, in addition to students.

"We do not feel it's fair to do something to our kids that we could not ask our teachers to do," Spalding said to the school board during its March 22 meeting held at Marion County High School. "We found it fundamentally unfair to hold our children to a different standard than we were going to be holding our teachers."

Spalding said it's "extremely unlikely" that the local Kentucky Education Association teacher's union would agree to drug-testing teachers.

Board Chairman Michael Mullins said he wasn't aware that the local teacher's union would be opposed to it, and that he will have issues with a drug-testing program if it doesn't include teachers and staff.

"To me its common practice in the business world," Mullins said. "We have to get our students used to the fact that it's going to happen. If we're not able to have our teachers and staff involved, I think we have to look at it again."

The Marion County Board of Education unanimously voted March 8 to adopt a resolution for a drug-testing program at Marion County High School for the 2011-12 school year.

Board member Bernard Miles said, while the board is still unsure how the program will be implemented, he sees it as a good start.

"You have to start somewhere," he said during last week's board meeting. "If you save one child... I think it's worth it. It may not be ideal, but I think it will be a starting point."

Board member Mike Cecil said the committee, of which he is a member, would address any issues and concerns about the drug-testing program. The other members of the Drug Testing Implementation Committee are Assistant Superintendent Taylora Schlosser, who will chair the committee, MCHS principals Chris Brady, Stacy Hall and Christina McRay, SBDM parent Cheryl Body, teachers Laurie Followell and Sallye Thompson, students Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Dylan Tungate, MADD President Mimi Crum, school nurse Mickie Lee, transportation director Scott Spalding, NAACP President Jerry Evans and Marion County Heartland Safe Community Coalition members Elizabeth Creed and Shelton Young. The committee will be responsible for determining the specific drug testing policies and procedures.

The Marion County Heartland Safe Community Coalition will be paying for the drug-testing program. The coalition proposed a random voluntary policy, but the board can decide to go another direction if it so chooses. For instance, the board can make the program be voluntary in nature, or it can target specific groups of students, such as students involved in athletics, extracurricular activities or all students that drive to school.

Currently, 92 school districts in the state have drug-testing programs in place.

MCHS continues principal search...

The Marion County Board of Education and the Marion County High School site based decision-making council discussed the school's principal search during the board's March 22 meeting.

So far, the council has eight applicants. The deadline to receive applications has passed, but the council is still accepting applications.

According to Todd Spalding, a member of the SBDM council, he believes the timing of the superintendent's vacancy has affected the number of candidates.

"The timing has had a negative impact on things because some people haven't applied because they don't know who they will be working for."

The site-based council attempted a search last July after then-principal Taylora Schlosser became the assistant superintendent for Marion County schools.

The site-based council identified seven finalists for the position. They were Paula Curtis (a math teacher at MCHS), Steve Evans (assistant principal at Boyle County Middle School), Stacey Hall (assistant principal and athletics director at MCHS), Curtis Higgins (math teacher and football coach at Fern Creek High School), Eric King (director of the alternative school at MCHS), Christina McRay (assistant principal at MCHS) and Michael Tinsley (principal at Christian County Middle School).

When the site-based council was unable to reach a decision, then-Superintendent Donald Smith appointed Brady to serve as an interim principal during the 2010-11 academic year.

Before a principal is hired, the council will hold at least one public meeting to receive suggestions from parents, staff and other interested parties regarding the traits that will make the best leader for the high school. They will also meet in open session with the superintendent to discuss criteria and develop interview questions. The council will meet in closed session to review applications and to select individuals to be interviewed. Interviews will be held in closed session at a time when all members of the council can be present.

The council will also hold closed session meetings to discuss the applicants. If necessary, the council will request additional applicants from the superintendent.

The council will meet in open session to make its final decision, which will be presented to the superintendent.

The members of the site-based council are Todd Spalding, Cheryl Body, Jamie Brown, Phillip Chatigny, Martha Ann Mattingly and Jeff Robbins.