Drug test funding available to Porter County schools
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 22, 2013 8:07PM
Updated: September 24, 2013 6:28AM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Substance Abuse Council announced Thursday that, as the school year gets under way, it is offering $15,000 in grant money to the county’s high schools for random drug testing.
The money, raised through drunken driving conviction and drug interdiction proceeds that fund the state-mandated council, is meant as a match for the schools.
“It is an action that addresses drug and alcohol pressures our children face every day,” said Paula Dranger, the council’s chair. “In addition, this adds to the efforts already put in place by the superintendents and their staff, who are serving our children in the schools.”
Support of random drug testing fits in the county’s plan to fight drug abuse, Dranger said, and, as such, has the support of school leaders, those who work in drug prevention and treatment, county officials, and the public in general.
“We appreciate the support. We do random drug testing. We use it as one of many tools,” said Stacey Schmidt, superintendent of the Porter Township schools and one of three superintendents at the news conference announcing the grant.
Her school corporation sets aside money for the tests and the amount of money available dictates how many students are tested. An official with the council said the grant money could double that number.
Also appreciating the support was Ron Gardin, superintendent of the East Porter schools, where a high percentage of students undergo random drug testing each year, at a cost of $6,000 to $8,000.
“Because our schools are small, almost every one of our seventh through 12th graders are involved in some sort of extracurricular activity,” he said, adding that means that almost all of the students are in the pool for random drug testing.
“We have found some students who need intervention. Our program is not punitive,” Gardin continued, noting the program is meant to get students help.
Random drug testing is under consideration in the Portage Township schools, said Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia, and any program implemented there also would be assistance-based, to get students back on track.
The testing may give kids a realistic way to turn down drugs.
“It’s a legitimate way to say no,” Frataccia said.