MANATEE — Every new hire in the Manatee School District and anyone who applies to be a substitute teacher would be required to pass a drug test under a policy amendment being considered by the school board.
Individuals are responsible for their choices and actions, Jeff C. Asher, executive director for district planning, policy and program evaluation, told school board members in discussing the proposed change.
Board members agreed, and approved advertising a public hearing for Oct. 12 on the change.
The hearing will be used to solicit feedback from the public and the board, Asher said. The district would pay for the cost of the drug tests.
Robert Gause, school board member, said his only reservation about the rule change is that it doesn’t go far enough. He said he favored requiring testing for existing employees to ensure they remain drug-free.
Another school board member, Harry Kinnan, agreed that maybe it is time to look at the expansion of drug testing.
Random drug testing is already done on student athletes, Kinnan said.
“I support this as a strong step in the right direction,” Kinnan said.
Superintendent Tim McGonegal agreed that the new policy covering new hires and substitutes is a great first step, but if existing employees were to be brought under a regular testing policy, that would be done under a different process.
School board members voted unanimously to hold the public hearing on the new policy, but took no action to require additional or random testing for existing employees.
In other action:
n The board approved an early college program matriculation agreement with State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.
The agreement allows all eligible 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students, including those at charter schools, to be dual-enrolled at their school and at SCF.
Tuition and fees for dual-enrolled students would be waived, making the college classes free to high school students.
Students interested in applying for dual enrollment would be required to meet with their high school guidance counselor to ensure they meet requirements, including grade point average and have qualifying test scores.
“All of our students at all of our schools from 9th grade on up have the same opportunity for dual enrollment,” Kinnan said.
n The school board received a report on the district’s Energy Challenge awards, presented to schools that were able to demonstrate the greatest energy savings during a two-month period.
Jennifer Malloy, district energy coordinator, said the program produced more than $58,000 in savings with Palmview Elementary’s savings of $8,663, Sugg Middle School’s savings of $3,395, and Southeast High School’s savings of $10,017 leading the way.
n The board approved amendments to the contract for renovations to the 21-year-old Braden River Elementary School, a contract originally let not to exceed $10 million. Under the latest revision, the contract would not exceed $8.2 million, and would be completed by August of 2010.