RANGELEY — There are several changes in the drug and alcohol policy at the Rangeley Lakes Regional School that the school’s Board of Education is considering.
Superintendent Phil Richardson noted at the board’s June 22 meeting that the second reading of the policy allows for students to be tested for drug and alcohol use based on reasonable suspicion by staff. The tests would then take place either at the school or off-site.
A student refusing to submit to the test would be presumed guilty. The policy also prevents students from being randomly tested.
“Suspicion at the school is not the same as suspicion on the street,” Richardson said. “Because we’re a school, as long as we have suspicion we can drug test. The law now allows you to take action on something that happens off school grounds if it has an affect in the school.”
The drug test must be conducted within five hours of a student being suspected of having an illegal substance in their system. Board member Harold Schaetzle asked if the time could be adjusted to within two hours.
Richardson pointed out that some substances can take a full month to be completely flushed from a person’s body. He added that the number of hours was arbitrary and was picked by the school’s legal counsel.
“If you’re an athlete it’s a different situation, because there’s no right to participate in athletics,” Richardson said. “Even then, with an athlete who’s caught once, you can random test, but you have to have real good reason to do it,” he added, noting reasonable suspicion was still required for athletes not having tested positive for a substance before.
There is no policy covering drug testing for teachers, but other school employees and bus drivers can be tested according to state law. The board approved the policy’s second reading.
The Class of 2010 is already planning its senior class trip. Several students and parents were present to give a trip proposal to the school board. Out of the 21 students who will be seniors, 18 are planning to go.
“The kids themselves came up with rules and regulations,” said Monika Taylor, one of the parents helping to organize the trip.
The class will be getting away from the cold, damp spring weather in western Maine by taking an April vacation cruise from Miami to Key West, Nassau (Bahamas), then a private island owned by the cruise ship company and back to Miami. It will take four nights and cost at most $1,000 per student.
Taylor pointed out that with the cruise cost, airline costs, and transfer booked separately, “the price will come down considerably” from the $1,000 maximum. Board representative Ginny Nuttall applauded the planning that had been done, explaining that having school rules apply would make for a safer and more enjoyable trip.
Richardson noted that there wouldn’t be any money taken out of the school budget to support the trip, as the students were raising money to go. Schaetzle pointed out that fundraising has traditionally been the way that the school’s senior trips have been paid for.
“I’m tickled that we’re sitting here discussing it tonight instead of November and December,” Schaetzle added. “Let me applaud you for getting this done early and choosing the dates.”
The board approved the trip by a 3-0 vote.
Residents voting on the school budget on June 11 passed an article authorizing the school board to transfer funds from some accounts to others to balance the budget. The board passed two amendments at the meeting to adjust the 2008-09 school budget in accordance with the article passed at the budget meeting.
“We balance them all out so they all come out with a plus or zero,” Richardson said of the account balances.
In other news, Rangeley boys’ varsity basketball coach Tom Philbrick has resigned to take a post as Mt. Blue girls’ varsity basketball coach for next season. The school board publicly thanked student representative Rachel Freihoff-Lewin, who recently graduated from RLRS, for her two years of dedicated service to the board.
Richardson is retiring, and the June 22 school board meeting was his last as superintendent. He thanked the board for making his job easier during his four years at the school, and the board returned the favor by acknowledging his contributions to improving the quality of education for the students and staff.

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