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Gainesville school board discusses drug testing students
Procedures would only impact drivers, athletes
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In the future, high school students in Gainesville City Schools may have more than just their parents questioning potential drug use.

During the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education regular work session Monday evening, the board discussed the possibility of implementing a drug testing procedure at Gainesville High School.

The issue was brought to the board by the school's governance council, which is made up of teachers, administration and parents.

"They drafted (the possible procedures) using models from other schools," said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent of schools.

"Shortly after I became superintendent, this was something (that parents) brought to my attention as something they really wanted."

As presented, the procedures would only impact student drivers and athletes. It would require students to sign a consent form submitting to random drug tests. Consequences for testing positive would include suspended driving privileges and eligibility to participate on a sports team.

In other news, the board would like to do more to help the system's "transitioners."

During the work session at the system's central office on Oak Street, the school board received an update about what will be done in the fall to help students as they transition from fifth to sixth grade.

According to Dyer, the system will implement a transition class for incoming sixth-graders.

During that enhancement period, students will be taught things like study skills, time management and note-taking.

Next year, the system will also try having single-gender classrooms in the sixth-grade. Dyer informed the board the same thing was tried in eighth grade last year, with positive outcomes.

Other sixth-grade changes include increased use of technology for students, increasing available honors courses and assigning students who are having trouble transitioning to a two-person teaching team.

"From fifth to sixth grade, students go from having two teachers to six teachers. Sometimes seven," board member Maria Calkins said. "That's a big change."

The idea with the smaller team of teachers is to lessen the shock some students experience when they transition from elementary to middle school. The ultimate goal of the extra help for sixth-graders is to improve graduation rates and college-career readiness among students.

 

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