The June 14 board of education meeting, the last assembly before the budget revote on Tuesday, June 21, provided the final opportunity for the public to voice opinions on the budget.
The meeting began with acknowledgements of various elementary schoolchildren for their awards in writing. The Salem Environmental Resolution is meeting its expectation and will be addressed in more detail at the next BOE meeting. Following these announcements, the meeting quickly turned to the most immediate priority, the budget revote on June 21, which Port News reported on in a previous issue.
Following the budget discussion, time was allocated to address the high temperatures in the schools (the Weber Gym reached 100°F) and the logistical problems involving gym time allotments for the various local athletic leagues, PYA, CYO, and PAL.
There was no further discussion about the PRIDE survey or the JCC Program, which were presented at the previous BOE meeting on June 7. At that meeting, goals were established for a new after-school initiative with the JCC. Some of the challenges of the JCC and after-school programs are the high expenses for the JCC, limited space, overlap of similar programs, need for administration improvements, marketing difficulties, and inequity among schools. Hoping to solve some of these problems, the board proposed one new, coordinated program. The new program, with a redesigned payment plan for families, would include enrichment classes as well as recreation that would also be available to the elementary schools.
Two thousand fifty-one students, 187 faculty, and 512 parents participated in the PRIDE Survey, which was designed to assess the extent of drug use and related behaviors in the community. The survey found that cigarette use was lower than the national average and has decreased since 1998. The use of beer, wine coolers, and liquor was far above the national average for high school students. A large jump in alcohol use also occurred as eighth graders moved to the high school. Females tended to have higher rates of liquor, beer, and marijuana use, but less illicit drug use than males. The site of use is highest outside of school and on weekends, except for inhalants and cocaine, while there is an increase in use while in a car. There was also an increase in the use of marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens.
To combat the drug use, some suggestions included training staff in drug awareness, advertising programs for students and staff with drug problems, and administering tests to fourth and fifth graders. It was also suggested that the administrators review the past instances of drug abuse, violence, and bullying, examine gang activity, and involve health teachers in reviewing data.