NORTH BEND — North Bend High School will drug-test all students in extracurricular activities starting this fall.
The school board approved a resolution to that effect Monday night.
'This will give students a reason to say: 'No, I'm not going to try it. I have something at stake,'" school board member Deb Reid said shortly before the board made its decision.
Students were told of the proposal before leaving school last spring, said Bill Lucero, the high school principal. Lucero and Mike Forrester, the athletic director, said every student they have talked to favors the new policy.
'I coached basketball, and I've had students tell me they were not going to be on the team because there were kids using," Forrester said.
'You can't argue with that."
Sole comment opposed
But at Monday night's meeting, the single community comment opposed mandatory testing.
'Frankly, we're taking the best and brightest kids we have and subjecting them to unreasonable search and seizure," said Jim Wilson, father of a North Bend High School student.
Lucero said Wilson's statement was the first negative comment he had heard about the policy, which he and other high school administrators have worked toward for years. They even added it to this year's budget, hoping for board approval.
Testing will cost the district $8,000-$9,000 a year.
Not only athletes
Each student participating in extracurricular activities will be tested before the activity begins and again at a random time during the season.
Reid said this is to increase effectiveness. Other school districts in the area, including Myrtle Point and Powers, do random drug testing to a few students in extracurricular activities every year.
'It is good for students going in to know they will be tested," Reid said. 'What is random about it is when."
The policy is not limited to student athletes. Students in other extracurricular activities — including band, choir and forensics — will be tested, but only if they participate in competitions outside school.
High school employees will perform the tests with urine kits. They plan to perform the tests in locker rooms, one team at a time. The tests will detect marijuana, opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Middle schools in 2013
The district already prohibits drug and alcohol use by students involved in extracurricular activities. A student who tests positive would face the same consequences as a student caught using: a two-week suspension from the activity and a meeting with high school administrators and counselors.
Positive test results also would require a clean test at the end of the suspension. If a student refuses to take the test, it will be considered a positive test, Lucero said.
The district plans to expand the policy to include the middle school for the 2013-14 school year.
There is no measure of whether testing students reduces drug use. The schools that do testing rely on anecdotal evidence.
North Bend plans to compare test results from the state's student wellness survey and to look at overall grade averages, attendance and dropout rates.
'If we save 11/2 students from dropping out," Reid said, 'we've paid for the whole program."
Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.