Pictured: Rick Del Bosque, director of the Alice Boys and Girls Club, made a presentation to the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco school board Tuesday night regarding plans for the new facility. Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Vote was unanimous; will begin next school year

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Despite questions and ironing out the details, Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco school board members voted Tuesday night to approve a drug testing policy that will take effect in the 2007-2008 school year.

The vote passed unanimously, 7-0.

Drug testing would target seventh through 12th grade students involved with UIL activities such as athletics, cheerleading, band and other organizations like FFA.

"After the first year, it will be easier," Superintendent Alberto Byington told the board.

The school district will be notifying parents who have students in the school district about parent orientations that will be taking place soon. The dates have not been decided, school officials said.

Ben Bolt high school coach Jeff Lafavre explained to the board that once a student tested positive, that test continues with the student throughout his course as a student in Ben Bolt.

He said after a student tests positive for drugs three times, they are permanently suspended from extra curricular activities.

"It carries with you throughout your career in Ben Bolt," he said.

After the board passed the drug testing policy, the audience applauded in support.

Other questions, such as how many students they can test in a day and when UIL policies allow them to be tested, will be considered by the drug policy committee.

"This is going to be our first year so we will expect some issues and changes (to the policy)," said Belinda Escobar, committee spokeswoman for the district.

In other business, the board heard a presentation from the Boys and Girls Club about the upcoming new facility.

The board approved the purchase of a new John Deere tractor with shredder and other equipment.

The board also rescinded an action taken in November 2006 meeting regarding the use of paper ballots. Instead they voted Tuesday to replace those paper ballots in November's election and joint efforts with the county election and use their E-scan and E-slate machines.

After action items, the board received reports from the curriculum director and campus principals.