(02/06/2001)
By Bob Weaver

The reduction in force (RIF) is on for the Calhoun County school system. Both teachers and service personnel can be discharged or transferred because of declining school enrollment. Last night the board went into executive session for a hearing related to the discharge of service personnel. The actual list of people affected has not been released, although the number is considerable.

Superintendent Ron Blanklenship has said the funding mechanism for rural, low population counties must be reversed if mandated services are to be delivered. He said "It is the biggest crisis of my career as an administrator."

A Millstone woman, Sue Roberts, said she wanted to make a public statement to the school board, but her comments became part of an executive session related to an expulsion hearing. "I don't think they wanted me to speak publicly," she said.

Roberts said she told the school board she is disturbed about the sale, distribution and use of illegal drugs at Calhoun Middle/High School. "I speak with first-hand knowledge about the problem," she said. "I am upset when the school system chooses to protect itself and deny the problem...It IS a serious problem when you can attach names and faces of students as I can."

Roberts concerned about school's drug problem

The woman, in a statement which is printed as a Letter to the Editor in today's edition, describes the availability of crystal meth or crank, in addition to prescription drugs used for the treatment of mental illness or pain which are traded or sold. "We are very much aware that Pot is available..."

Roberts said it was very difficult for her to come before the Calhoun County Board of Education. "Many of us are neighbors and friends."

She challenged the board to become more open about the drug problem. "We have a right to know about these problems." Her statement concluded with "I, like each of you, want the best for our children. I wish each of you well as you consider my concerns. I respectfully request a written statement (from the board) regarding these concerns."

The board adopted a Work-Based Learning Policy. They approved home school requests for Jeremiah Hamburg (grade six), son of Robert Hamburg and Dustin Jefferey (grade 7), son of Barbara Simmons. Out of state conference requests were approved for Renita Benson and Charles Thomas.

Other details of the board meeting will follow.


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