Story by Shelley R. Clapper
Warwick Valley School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach provided a summary of the results of a county development survey on drug and alcohol use in the school during the Warwick School Board meeting on Mon., Nov. 13. The survey was completed in the Spring of 2017 by 565 students in grades eight, ten and twelve, which resulted in a 61 percent response rate.
According to the survey, current alcohol usage increases with age with seven percent of eighth graders, 37 percent of tenth graders and 59 percent of twelfth graders reporting they drink alcohol. In regards to binge drinking, two percent of eighth graders, 25 percent of tenth graders and 43 percent of twelfth graders acknowledged binge drinking on alcohol at least once within a two week period.
The survey indicated that when obtaining alcohol students seem to rely on their parents and people they know. The most frequently reported source of alcohol was at home, or someone else’s house.
According to the survey data, 34 percent of student respondents reported using marijuana at least some point in their lifetime. Three percent of eighth graders, 26 percent of tenth grades and 41 percent of twelfth graders reported being current users of marijuana.
Dr. Leach said that adolescents’ abuse of prescription drugs often involves the use of opiates and opioids and that opioid use has increased from 2014.
In the survey, prescription opiates had the most use. Two percent of respondents have used heroin in their lifetime, five percent have used prescription opiates and three percent of respondents had used prescription opiates in the past 30 days. Two percent had used heroin in the past 30 days.
Steps Taken to Prevent Drug & Alcohol Use
Dr. Leach described steps taken by the School District to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. These steps include involving parents and conduct awareness sessions and working with the Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition, which is a group of concerned parents, youth and community partners working to reduce alcohol and marijuana abuse among youth. The Coalition meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30 pm at the Warwick Valley Community Center, located at 11 Hamilton Ave. in Warwick.
Dr. Leach described other steps to counter drug and alcohol abuse that includes conducting ongoing substance education and intervention, continuing to engage students in meaningful extracurricular activities and programs beyond the school day, and establishing useful school discipline codes, codes of conduct and policies concerning substances.
Robert Howe, a School Board member who is also a representative of the Warwick Prevention Coalition said, “These are very strong numbers. Sixty percent of our seniors drink alcohol and forty percent smoke marijuana. I think it is positive that we have started to recognize these problems.”
“It is not that the data from the survey is inconsistent with previous surveys. Student activity has not changed. What has changed is that the District has become more assertive using the data,” said Dr. Leach.
H.S. Coalition Team Plans ‘Strategic Events’
Warwick Valley H.S. Principal Dr. Larry Washington gave an overview about the newly formed High School Coalition Team. Dr. Washington said that the first meeting was held on Thurs., Oct. 26. It included the school nurse and guidance counselors. He said that they were planning some more “strategic events” such as a coffee house and Red Ribbon week, which is a national drug awareness campaign.
Capital Projects 2017-2018
After the Board discussed the results of the survey, they spoke about the Capital Projects planned for the 2017-2018 school year. Approximately 64 percent of the cost of the capital projects is returned to the School District by State aid.
Park Ave. Elementary School, the only school building without air conditioning, is the largest expenditure. The plan is to install building-wide air conditioning and upgrade the water system that dates back to 1929.
Dr. Leach spoke about the need for repairs now that the Sanfordville Elementary School building is twenty years old. Capital Projects at Sanfordville include repaving the student drop-off parking lot and replacing the floor in the cafeteria.
The high school needs significant enhancements and repairs. This includes repairing the greenhouse, purchasing an emergency generator, repaving the parking lot, resurfacing the track, upgrading instructional space, updating bathrooms and replacing the central electrical system and boilers. In reference to the middle school, the School District is looking to upgrade its media center.
Dr. Leach said that the cost of the capital projects totals $9,507,000. State aid will pay for 63.8 percent of the cost or $6.9 million and money set aside in the District’s capital reserve fund will cover the balance. Voters who live in the Warwick School District will vote on the project on Thurs. Dec. 7.
The Lion King at Park Ave. School
During the Performing Arts Moment at the meeting, Park Ave. Elementary School Principal Sandra Wood introduced members of the Drama Club to the Board. Wood said to the Board that they are in for a treat and a big roar.
The students radiated enthusiasm and excitement as they performed a preview of their play, the Lion King, to the delight of the School Board.
Music teacher Christy Browne, who had directed the students, said, “We are so proud to have a drama club. Our first ever!”
School Board President Lynn Lillian said, “I don’t know what you have been doing but it is amazing that there is this amount of kids with this amount of talent!”
Next Board Meeting
The next regular School Board meeting will be held on Mon., Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center, located at 225 West St. in Warwick.