School Board Looks at Vaping and Other Policies; New LIHEAP Funding Comes Monday; School Board Adds Last Minute Agenda Item

School Board Looks at Vaping and Other Policies

A significant portion of last night’s School Board Work session focused on the problems of vaping and smoking among the student population. Principal Mike Harkelrode told the board he sees the problem as significant. Board member John Barnett says he would like to see a policy that held parents accountable when they provide products for their children and maybe even including the use of Vape detectors in other settings than the high school.  Principal Harkelrode addressed the use of such detectors and said the studies in schools around Lane County and beyond show that the detectors are not very effective as a deterrent.  Board members also discussed the possibility of testing athletes for tobacco and alcohol, an idea that met with some apprehension from the High School’s Athletic Director Chris Johnson.

“The Drug Testing policy, I understand why we have a drug testing policy. And assuming that’s because its a deterrent for kids to take drugs, but like we’re testing a lot of kids and spending a lot of money and pretty much catching nobody.”

Johnson added that athletics is the one place where students are surrounded by individuals who want to be healthy and often sports is the bigger reason students don’t do drugs.  He was not advocating not to do the testing but that the policy should be looked at further. Board Chair Brian Lacouture says he believes there are more students at risk, but Athletics is not the main area of concern as the students that participate are also doing relatively well in school and on course to graduate.

New LIHEAP Funding Comes Monday

Families that have difficulty meeting the general needs of their household can get another boost from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  Beginning on Monday at 9 am Siuslaw Outreach Services will sign up households that may be struggling to pay their heating bills.  A new round of funding has been provided by Lane County to extend benefits to needy households.  SOS provided a phone number for more information.  541-997-2816.

School Board Adds Last Minute Agenda Item

A last minute addition to the Siuslaw School Boards work session agenda sparked some debate on the ongoing situation between the board and the Siuslaw Valley Charter School.  The board decided on a 5-2 vote to have a discussion about another meeting with the Charter School Board. A concern that two members of the board expressed as a lack of transparency because of the late notice.  In the end it was decided that the board would present two possible dates, February 7th and February 12th for the two boards to meet and further discuss what SVCS characterized as a misunderstanding and miscommunication of the charter schools intent.  The proposed Whitmore Academy has had some pushback from some members of the board and the public because of their choice to use the curriculum of Hillsdale College a conservative Christian university which in recent months has come under scrutiny for its political involvments.  The Siuslaw School board had requested a statement disavowing an affiliation with the school, which has yet to be received.