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By KEVIN KOELLING
CANNELTON – Cannelton School Board members approved at a regular meeting Nov. 15 a substance-abuse policy covering school-bus drivers.
Modeled after one he used in his previous role at Paoli, Schools Superintendent Al Sibbitt said the policy he presented covers school employees and any drivers who might work on a contract basis for the school corporation.
The board opted this year to begin providing transportation to students living outside the district after the county’s other two districts began picking up Cannelton residents. Rules previously requiring students to pay tuition if they cross district lines had been relaxed, and Sibbitt noted Cannelton schools were losing approximately $7,000 per student in state funding to other systems.
Two dozen students were being picked up in the other districts, he said later in the meeting, when he proposed a policy for snow days.
The 16-page substance-abuse policy notes drivers “are en extremely valuable resource” for the school system, and “their health and safety is a serious concern.”
The purchase, use, sale, possession or presence in one’s system of any nonprescribed controlled substance is prohibited by any employee while on school premises, engaged in school business, using school equipment or while under the authority of the school. No employee will report for or remain on duty with a blood-alcohol concentration of .04 or greater. Nor will they possess alcohol while on duty or refuse to submit to a random or reasonable-suspicion alcohol or drug test or any required following accidents or for return-to-duty reasons.
“The bus driver and any substitutes will have to be randomly drug-tested,” Sibbitt told the board.
Now that Cannelton City Schools does provide bus service, board member Jerry Harris asked how school closures due to inclement weather will be handled. Until this year, students have walked to school or were dropped off by parents.
“Will we cancel the bus route and still have school?” he asked.
“I’m hoping it won’t happen before the next board meeting,” Sibbitt replied. “I would hate to have 24 kids miss school and the rest of them go. Right now, my gut feeling is I’ll recommend to you at the next meeting that if we don’t run the bus, we don’t have school. We’ll probably do pretty close to whatever Tell City does.”
He will probably call people in this area if weather is questionable “because I live 60 miles north of here, and it can be a lot different in my neck of the woods,” Sibbitt said.
“It can be different between here and Tell City,” board member Barbara Beard noted.
“If we call off school, it’s called off and the bus doesn’t run,” Sibbitt said. “I don’t want to have school and have the bus not run. … You take 24 kids; they’re losing a day of school. What if we have four or five days?”
Harris noted the school calendar allows for makeup days if they’re needed.