BALLINGER – Students, administrators, educators, board members and community leaders held frank discussions on drugs, alcohol, smoking, bullying and social media during the BISD Advisory Committee meeting, held Thursday, Jan. 26 at the BISD board room.

BALLINGER – Students, administrators, educators, board members and community leaders held frank discussions on drugs, alcohol, smoking bullying and social media during the BISD Advisory Committee meeting, held Thursday, Jan. 26 at the BISD board room.

The meeting is the first of two held annually by the Advisory Committee and is designed to bring all of the different parties together to plan and discuss issues that are important to students as well as administrators, educators, community members and law enforcement.

During the portion of the meeting dedicated to the Safe and Drug Free Schools Act, Caroline Toliver, program and curriculum director for BISD went over the numbers of violent incidents at the campuses last year and reviewed intervention policies and procedures.

According to the report, violations of the Student Code of Conduct included 52 at the elementary school, 63 incidents at the junior high and 86 at the high school, during the 2051-16 school year. There was one incident of tobacco possession at the high school, four incidents of fighting at the elementary, six at the junior high and one at the high school.

Toliver presented figures on drugs, alcohol and violence which indicated that between 1 and 33 percent of students at the elementary and junior high engaged In tobacco, alcohol, drug use or violence. It was the same for the high school except for the figures on alcohol use, which estimated that between 34 and 66 percent of the high school students had experimented or drank alcohol.

Students at the meeting agreed with the figures regarding alcohol use among their fellow students.

“There are parents that care, but don’t care,” said one student. “Not meaning they don’t care, but if the kid is staying at one place and not driving, they are okay with that.”

Butts asked the students “what the school’s role” should be. He asked if seminars or talks would help.

Students said that a one-time seminar may not be as memorable as an event. Plus, they suggested starting discussions on alcohol and drugs earlier, in junior high.

Ballinger Police Chief Stan Maresch suggested reviving the “Shattered Dreams” program which is a realistic reenactment of a fatality accident involving drugs and alcohol.

“That would have an impact,” one student said. “I think it would hit hard.”

Toliver indicated that a donation was given to the district several years ago from a friend of David Epting, a student who was killed in a tragic accident in 1970.

Butts suggested that a program educating students on the dangers of alcohol and drugs would be a good way to spend the funds, which were donated by a classmate of Epting.

The group also discussed the dangers of bullying and social media.

Students said that social media is difficult to combat and that they do not hear too many incidents of mean spirited bullying.

“The presence is very high here, but the severity is not,” one student said.

Those in attendance also discussed the district’s random drug testing policy

The random student drug testing is a requirement under the law for all students who drive a vehicle on campus, Superintendent Jeff Butts explained.

“It is designed as a deterrent,” Butts said. “If you are in extracurricular activities, your parents have to sign off on this.”

Students who were in attendance at the meeting, agreed that the random drug testing was a deterrent.

“We hope that this gives kids a reason not to do it,” Toliver said.

Also during the meeting, discussions were held on federal funding and program plans.

Also during the meeting Toliver went over federal funding as well as grant funds that are distributed to BISD each year, which includes over $300,000 through the No Child Left Behind /Every Student Succeeds Act through Title IA, IC and Title IIA and IIIA. She reported the district receives $19,633 Rural and Low Income Grant that goes to the technology department. In addition she reported that the district receives more than $187,000 from IDEA grant funds which provides salaries for special education.