The Effingham County Board of Education approved a new student drug testing program at its Aug. 19 meeting that will subject five students from each high school to a screening every month during the school year.
For the past three years, 10 Effingham high school students were drug tested each week with grant funds. Although the grant ran out, the board members believed the drug tests serve as a deterrent.
“But I think the important thing here is how many kids, hopefully, we keep from trying drugs simply because they knew they could be tested,”
Superintendent Randy Shearouse said.
Students are selected at random for drug tests and must be involved in some extracurricular activity at school.
“They can be in clubs, or students that drive to school; you can’t just do the total population, that’s against the rules as well,” Shearouse said.
“They have to be involved in something that’s a privilege or that’s extracurricular.”
Shearouse provided statistics in support of student drug testing, reporting that 16 percent of students from schools that provide drug tests tested positive for substances recovered from the past 30 days compared to 22 percent in systems that did not provide drug tests. He also said that the study showed a decline in illicit drug use among students over the past decade and that Effingham has not has many students test positive.
“There’s not punishment associated with that — it’s all about helping the students,” Shearouse said. “Of course we can’t punish these students as far as the law, but we can provide them help.”
The program is also part of Effingham Hospital’s Medical Outreach Program and will cost the BoE $3,000, at $30 per test, for the nine-panel drug screen to test 100 during the school year.
It will still fit policy of drug testing, but it certainly wouldn’t cost us quite as much, since we no longer have the grant,” Shearouse said.