North Lamar ISD is stepping up its efforts to detect vaping on campus, and school leaders would like to see an increase in other drug detection efforts, school trustees learned Monday at a regular board meeting at the Roy Chadwick Administration Building, 3240 N. Main St.

Several sensors, at a cost of roughly $1,000 each, are being installed at the high school to monitor areas where security cameras are not allowed, Superintendent Kelli Stewart told trustees.

“We purchased them to put in the high school first to see if they are helpful, and if we see they are helpful we will place them in the middle school as well,” Stewart said. “Vaping is something school administrators across the nation are having to deal with.”

The sensors, which detect a wide range of scents including smoke, THC, formaldehyde, finger nail polish and more, do not sound an alarm but instead send email or text notifications to administrators.

In addition to vaping detection, assistant superintendent Leslie Watson reviewed other drug prevention efforts, including drug testing and the use of drug detection dogs. He recommended an increase in both for the 2020-2021 school year

Currently, the district does random drug testing twice a year at a cost of $700 for each test date. Those tested for a wide range of narcotics include students who drive a vehicle to school or those involved in extracurricular activities. The testing company randomly chooses 25 students. Watson’s recommendation is to double the number of test dates.

“Each test date is testing about 3% of our student population; but only about 70% of our students fall into the categories of students we test,” Watson said. “Once a student tests positive they are tested every time.”

In addition to losing the right to participate in extracurricular activities or drive on campus, Watson recommends the district offer a six-week drug awareness and prevention program.

Watson also proposed an increase in the use of drug detection dogs from once a year provided free by the Paris Police Department to an additional six times a year using a canine drug detection service at a cost of $340 per half day for a total $2,040.

Watson’s proposals likely are to be included for board approval in the 2020-2021.

While increasing drug detection efforts, Watson asked trustees to consider a change in its zero tolerance policy of mandatory one-semester expulsion for students caught with drugs on campus.

“The problem with expelling students is that the student is on the street and probably not getting the help they need to make better choices,” Watson said. “They lose credit toward graduation, and the district does not get to collect money for their attendance.

“We would like to look at 90 days in DAEP (disciplinary alternative education program) where at least once a week they would receive a one-hour counseling session on drug awareness and prevention as well as counseling about making better choices in life.”

In other business, assistant superintendent Angela Chadwick presented a comparison of Texas Academic Performance Report scores with state, regional and country averages and shared plans to improve student performance in needed areas.

Trustees approved a revised policy with regard to the North Lamar Police Department and approved $500 donations from ExxonMobil to Stone Middle School, Aaron Parker Elementary and North Lamar High School for science projects.

In recognition of School Board Recognition Month, representatives from each of the district campuses presented board members with student-made posters and gifts in appreciation of their service to the district.

After the meeting, which included an hour-long annual evaluation of the superintendent, school board president Jeff Martin said the board is pleased with Kelli Stewart’s leadership.

“The board is pleased to present Mrs. Stewart with an excellent evaluation,” Martin said. “She has done an outstanding job during her first year as superintendent, and we look forward to seeing the progress she can bring to North Lamar in the next year.”

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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