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Galesburg Schools Expand Drug Testing

Galesburg, IL – The Galesburg School Board has agreed to extend its random drug testing program to middle school students, grades 6 though 8.

The initiative was first implemented at Galesburg High School last year. It gives the district the authority to randomly screen students involved in extra curricular activities for illegal drugs. The activities include academic-based groups, athletics, drama and any other extra-curricular.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Joel Estes says extending the testing to younger students is justified, and important. He says board members would not have moved forward with the proposal if they didn't "have experience" with these situations.

"Obviously if we didn't have situations like that at the middle school level, it would be a little ludicrous for us to start to do it," says Estes. "It was a board determination; they directed the administration to put policy and procedures in place."

Estes says the program is designed to be a tool to identify some students who might potentially have drug problems so they can begin seeking help.

Facilities Plan on Hold

In other business this week, the Galesburg school board decided to table its ten year, $110 million dollar facilities improvement plan, dubbed "Operation Re-Build Achievement."

The plan seeks to invest millions of dollars into every building district wide, some of which exceed 100 years old and are in desperate need of repair. The plan would be paid for mainly by several bond issues to be paid back over the next 20 years.

Joel Estes says the board tabled the proposal due to a perceived lack of public input. He says board members wanted more time to educate the public on exactly what's being proposed.

"We want a public dialogue on the issue," says Estes. "One of the board members said this is one of the largest, if not the largest, proposed public works program in the history of our community."

The board unanimously voted to table the proposal.

It also tabled a resolution that would have asked the Knox County Board to consider putting a one percent sales tax increase before voters in November. Estes says such an increase would likely pay for about one-third of the work.

Estes hopes the board will call for a vote on the plan within the next couple of months.