PCS moves ahead with drug test program

By Belinda M. Paschal - bpaschal@aimmediamidwest.com

PIQUA — After a year of discussions with other school districts, meetings with a legal team, high school staff members, conversations with parents, and consultations with a representative from a Perrysburg drug testing company, the Piqua City Schools district decided on Thursday to move forward with plans for a random student drug testing program.

The board of education unanimously voted to waive the three-reading rule of the random drug testing policy to allow Superintendent Dwayne Thompson to begin working with Piqua High School Principal Rob Messick and Athletic Director Chip Hare to get information out to parents about the program.

The district has been in talks since last year with Great Lakes Biomedical, which specializes in student testing, has more than 20 years in the industry, and works with between 130-140 schools in Ohio.

Great Lakes President Kyle Prueter explained at the BOE’s December meeting that Great Lakes offers two types of testing programs: 1) random, in which students are chosen lottery-style by a random number generator; and 2) “draw the line” testing, which takes place on a designated date. Testing is anonymous and confidential, he added.

The cost depends upon which substances are being tested for. For instance, for $15 per test, a five-panel test will look for marijuana, cocaine and opiates, as well as two other substances of the district’s choosing. There also are what Prueter called “add-ons,” like the EtG alcohol test, which, at $20 per test, does an 80-hour look-back to check for Ethyl Glucuronide, which remains in the body for three days after consuming alcohol.

In addition to conferring with Prueter, Thompson met with administrators from Miami East Local Schools, which approved its own random drug testing program almost two years ago.

BOE member Frank Patrizio, a well-known local attorney, spoke emphatically in favor of the program, saying, “In my line of work, you really see the devastating effects of drug abuse.”

In other business, Joe Braden, liaison for the Ohio Auditor of State office, presented the district with an Auditor of State Award with Distinction, which is given to public entities that meet specific criteria of a “clean” financial audit. Braden praised the district for doing an excellent job accounting for all dollars spent, and gave kudos to Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Jeremie Hittle for his “outstanding leadership, professionalism and commitment to fiscal integrity.”

During his report, Hittle stated that the district has completed 10 years in the black and is “on track to complete year 11.” He also said PCS has seen stabilization of property values during the fiscal year, and expects that to continue, and that income tax revenue is expected to remain stable. He also thanked the public for approving a five-year renewal operating levy for the district, saying their votes contribute to the district’s sound financial standing.

“We’re sitting in a good position and a lot of people wish they were us,” Hittle said.

Jeff Meyer of Meyer Restoration Inc. gave a brief presentation on the facade restoration and roof replacement project at the high school. Work done on the facade included high-pressure cleaning, caulking windows, removal of cracked and deteriorating mortar, removing damaged bricks, and applying a water repellent. Replacements to the roof included Area 2 over the commons area and offices. The roofing material is under a 20-year warranty, with a life expectancy of 35 years, Meyer said.

The Class of 2018’s valedictorians, Cameron Brown and Darby Bubp, and salutatorian, Leanne Price, were introduced, along with Teacher of the Year Stacy Patton and Support Staff Member of the Year Beth Rosenkranz.

In personnel matters, Springcreek Primary School Assistant Principal Ross Loudenback resigned from his post to assume the role of principal recently vacated when Connie Strehle retired. Sara Watson, a K-6 literacy coach, will move into the assistant principal position. Piqua Central Intermediate School will also see a new face in the fall, as Kyle Cutnaw has been hired as assistant principal for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

The next BOE meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the new board offices at 215 Looney Road, Piqua. Live and recorded streams of BOE meetings can be viewed at www.piqua.org/Boxcast.aspx.

By Belinda M. Paschal


Reach Belinda M. Paschal at bpaschal@aimmediamidwest.com or (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at bpaschal@aimmediamidwest.com or (937) 451-3341