The Tamaqua Area School District has adopted a co-curricular drug and alcohol testing policy for students in grades 7-12.

The district's board of education approved the second and final reading of the policy Tuesday evening during its monthly meeting this week.

In instituting the policy, the district had a committee review drug testing policies already in place among other Schuylkill County school districts, including Minersville, North Schuylkill, Tri-Valley and Williams Valley.

Assistant Superintendent Raymond J. Kinder has explained the administration recommended a drug testing format similar to what is done with juvenile probation, with results that are 99.9 reliable.

The district has enough funding available to test every student participating in co-curricular activities twice, once on a mandatory basis and once more on a random basis.

The board added the drug testing to its previous policy, which had only dealt with students who were caught being under the influence while on school premises. The testing is intended to act as a deterrent to student drug and alcohol use and gives them an excuse to resist peer pressure, Kinder has noted.

The policy also provides an avenue for students who test positive to seek help and to come back if they can come clean, since it removes them from their activities but not from school.

As for the next step, Kinder said High School Principal RuthAnn Gardiner, Assistant Principal Steve Toth and Athletics Director Michael Hromyak are meeting to formalize the policy into a written document. Once that is done, the information will be communicated to the students, coaches and parents and released to the public.

Mission statement

In other business, the board approved a revised mission statement for the district, based on recommendations of the high school's Middle States Accreditation committee.

The statement is as follows: "The Tamaqua Area School District, in partnership with home and community, is committed to empowering students by providing opportunities to achieve their maximum potentials as responsible citizens and productive lifelong learners in an ever-changing global community."

Tamaqua Area has also approved an agreement with Bloomsburg University for the district to act as a site for students enrolled in teacher entertainment programs. The agreement allows for student teachers in the district.

In another matter, the board approved the administration's request for the school nurses to provide and administer influenza, tetanus and meningitis vaccinations to students free of charge at a date to be scheduled for the 2010-11 school year.

Friday, May 13, 2011 was approved as an Act 80 Day and also as the date of the 2011 Senior Prom, which will be held at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.

Personnel moves

In personnel matters, the board approved Jody Bachert as Special Education Department Head for the high school for 2010-11, at a stipend to be determined.

The request of Jeannine Gottstein, custodian, for an extension of an unpaid leave of absence that started April 8 to an anticipated return date of July 8 was approved.

Middle school teacher Carla Keller's request for one-half day unpaid leave of absence for May 25 was retroactively approved.

The following faculty members were approved as elementary liaison teachers: Vanessa Boyle, West Penn Elementary, grades K-2; Michele Bittner, West Penn Elementary, grades 3-5; Jean Newton, Tamaqua Elementary, grades 2-3; Cindy Viel, Tamaqua Elementary, grades 4-5; Diane Michalik, Tamaqua Primary Center, Hometown, Kindergarten; Charise Fiorilla, Tamaqua Primary Center, grade one; Maureen Schoener, elementary special education; and Jolene Barron, elementary extended students.

The following appointments were approved: Amanda Walker, Tamaqua, as volunteer band front assistant; Tyler McLaughlin, Tamaqua, and Derek Drum, Mary D, as summer student workers, retroactive to June 9; and William Zahora, Mary D, Francis Nazar, Middleport, and June Warner and Zorica Brill, both of Tamaqua, as substitute custodians.

The following were approved as substitute teachers: Susan Bonner, New Ringgold; Deb Davies, Tuscarora; and Carolyn Fisher and Barron George, both of Tamaqua.

The resignations of following paraprofessional employees were accepted: Kathleen M. Milner and Ryanne Bulanda, effective at the end of the 2009-2010 school year; and Patricia Knipper, effective at the end of May 21.