There were seven student violations of the McPherson High School substance abuse policy during the 2012-2013 school year.

There were seven student violations of the McPherson High School substance abuse policy during the 2012-2013 school year.

During the regular USD 418 Board of Education meeting Monday, Shane Backhus briefed the board on the policy that was enacted this year.

Random tests, which were given once a month, detected 16 substances in seventh- through 12th-grade students in Kansas State High School Activities Association activities. Students in these activities must agree to be in the random testing pool to be eligible for KSHAA activities. There were 529 in the pool this year. Students are then randomly selected by a computer program for testing.

Of the seven student violations, two were self-referrals (by students, parents, staff or police), two were abuses on campus verified by staff, and three were a result of the random drug testing. Three were marijuana-related, three were alcohol-related, and one was tobacco-related.

Those who are tested positive must take five follow-up tests. One, however, chose to forfeit their remaining eligibility because of the little amount of time left before graduation.

During the 2012-2013 school year, 152 drug tests were administered at the high school, and 133 of those were random tests. This cost the district about $4,000.

The policy resulted from coaches, sponsors and teachers who had expressed concerns in recent years about the ineffectiveness of the previous policy. Many thought the reactive policy, which relied solely on self-referrals by students, parents, staff or police, was not aligned with district goals of avoidance.

"Overall, it's gone very smooth," Backhus said. "The students handled it very well. I'd say extremely well."

Backhus said he has received lots of positive comments. For example, he believes one student who was tested positive is now on a better track since the violation was addressed at an early age.

"We think it's working. We think it's doing what it was intended to do for prevention," he said. "I'm going to recommend we continue to do what we're doing."

This agenda item was for discussion only. No action was taken.

Brandon Simmelink, McPherson Middle School assistant principal, was later contacted for information from students in seventh and eighth grade. He said 359 students consented to be in the random drug testing pool.

During the 2012-2013 school year, 43 tests were administered, which included some follow-up tests.

There were two violations due to self-referral — one was tobacco-related and one was marijuana-related. Cost for testing at MMS was about $1,200.

"I definitely think it's something that should continue," he said. "If a student can use me as their reason for not participating in illegal activities, then I'm OK with that. I think the big deal is we want to educate students to lead that healthy lifestyle."

In other news:

- John Heim of the Kansas Association of School Boards was a guest at Monday's board meeting. His goal was to communicate reasons why a district would be interested in becoming what a Kansas bill calls an "innovative district," which gives them exemptions to state education requirements.

- Angie McDonald, director of instruction, informed the board about a district-wide plan to better organize and streamline elementary field trips. Trips will now be scheduled by grade, with four per year for each grade. This will prevent repeated trips and allow students to have a variety of experiences throughout their time in the district. Special speakers also will be instructed to discuss certain topics to cover career-related topics to meet C3 objectives.

- The board accepted the addition of an elementary science consultant to vertically align the science curriculum between the elementary and middle schools, as well as provide ongoing professional learning opportunities for teachers.

- The board accepted the proposal of a McPherson High School choir trip to the University of North Texas for March 17-18, 2014.

- The board accepted a gift of a $1,000 grant from the Waldhauer Scholarship Fund for a band and orchestra accompanist.

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel