WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Random Drug Testing Policy Eliminated

Macomb, IL – There will no longer be a random drug testing policy in the Macomb High School handbook.

The school board voted five-to-two during its August meeting to get rid of the policy. Board President Robert Shouse, Martha Klems, Jude Kiah, Dan Colvin and Matthew Clark voted in favor of the move. Ardell Thompson and Larry Adams opposed it.

The policy regarding alcohol and recreational drugs has been in place for around a decade. But the district never implemented a plan to carry out the tests, which would have been done on students involved in non-graded extracurricular activities.

Those activities include athletics plus scholastic bowl, student council, and other clubs and organizations.

The issue was heavily debated during the spring before the board decided against implementing a program for the school year that begins August 21. As a result of that action, Shouse feels it's not fair to keep the rule on the books. "I didn't think it was fair to the students or the parents," says Shouse.

Students who compete in Illinois High School Association competitions could still undergo random drug tests. A bill signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn this month allows student-athletes to be tested year-round for performance enhancing drugs.

The IHSA already conducted random tests for performance enhancing drugs during postseason competition.

A Late Hit to the Budget

Cuts to the state budget in Illinois will be felt in the Macomb School District.

The district estimates it will lose around $100,000 in General State Aid this year compared to what it received last school year.

Superintendent Alene Reuschel says the district just learned the news this week. Yet, it had to make personnel decisions five months ago. Personnel costs account for the biggest chunk of the school district's spending.

Reuschel says at this point, the district will fill the budget gap by watching every nickel it spends. "We're gonna have to make the Indian ride the buffalo on the nickel because that's just where we are," says Reuschel. "And it's frustrating. It's frustrating."

Reuschel says it's frustrating because lawmakers should have approved an income tax hike this year. She says that would provide a dependable source of money for education and social services.

Reuschel says lawmakers failed to do the right thing.

Reuschel says the district will not shortchange its students. The superintendent says those who work in rural education have learned to think outside the box, and she says that's what the Macomb district will do to make ends meet.

You can hear the frustration in Reuschel's voice by clicking on the audio button to listen to more of her comments about state funding of education.