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Lebanon school board approves use of drug to reverse heroin overdoses

Written by John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News | Jan 19, 2016 10:50 AM
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Photo by AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Lebanon) -- The Board of Directors of the Lebanon School District adopted or amended several policies Monday night, including one regarding educator-misconduct and another authorizing certain district employees to administer the heroin-overdose antidote, naloxone.

Naloxone (also known by its commercial name, Narcan, or Evzio, its pre-measured injectable form) prevents overdoses by inhibiting the action of heroin and other opiods, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The passage of the policy allowing the administration of naloxone follows Gov. Tom Wolf decision last September to authorize its use in school buildings, and not to address any problem with heroin use in the district, explained Superintendent Marianne Bartley after the meeting.

"The rationale is that statewide and even throughout our country, (heroin) is a growing problem, and the fact is, that using this drug Narcan can saves people's lives," she said. "So if someone is in our presence and going through that situation where they are near death we can administer it."

The district will store naloxone at the middle school and high school, but administering the drug will be limited to its licensed health care professionals and school police officers after they complete training on how it is administered.

The passage of the Educator Misconduct Policy was done to comply with changes made by the state Legislature to the Professional Educator Discipline Act, Bartley said. The changes expanded the circumstances and strengthened the requirements school administrators and staff must adhere to when reporting allegations of sexual misconduct.

"An employee has to self-report, if you have an arrest, within 72 hours," Bartley said. "So that is an important piece. It changes the responsibility level of an employee to self-report if there is a violation."

Also introduced Monday was the establishment of a suicide prevention policy that will include creating a crisis response team composed of administrators, guidance counselors, school nurses and others.

The Suicide Awareness and Prevention policy was adopted to comply with state regulations requiring students from middle school on to receive age-appropriate instruction about suicide, including how to recognize if they or a peer are at risk for suicide.

As part of the policy, which still must be approved on second reading, the staff also will receive instruction on the risk-factors and warning signs of suicide.

"There are new mandates for schools to insure that students from sixth-grade and up have some kind of training in our curriculum that addresses suicide," she said.

In other business, the board unanimously adopted on introduction a preliminary 2016-17 budget that includes a 7 percent property tax increase.

The budget was first discussed at last week's workshop meeting and includes raising the millage rate by 1.35 mill to 20.65 mills.

For the owner of a home assessed at the city's average of $105,000 the proposed  tax hike would increase their property's taxes by $141, from $2,026 to 2,168.

The $77.1 million spending plan is subject to change, said business manager Curt Richards, because it is based on an assumption that the state will eventually pass a $30.8 billion compromise budget passed by the state Senate and agreed to by Gov. Tom Wolf  in December.

That budget, however, was rejected by the state House of Representatives in favor of a $30.26 billion budget, so the more than 200-day impasse has continued.

"Since that (compromise budget) is not on the table yet, that might be more ambitious than what we anticipated," Richards said.

School board President Peter Pyles agreed.

"Typically this is a crystal ball and not much more than that. And this year that ball is cloudier than ever," he said.

The final budget must be passed by June 30. The reason the district passed a preliminary budget at this early stage is because it must meet timeline requirements to receive an exemption from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that will allow it to exceed its taxing limit of 3.8 percent.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

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