Wahkiakum school board members don't want pot at school.
State law prohibits tobacco possession on school district buildings and grounds, including use by spectators at sporting events. However, that law was put in place long before Washington voters legalized the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana last fall for people over age 21.
To preempt any potential issues caused by a lack of inclusive language, the Wahkiakum School District board of directors authorized Superintendent Bob Garrett to draft a policy barring marijuana from campus for the board’s consideration at their February meeting.
At the January 24 board meeting, sixth grader Ellie Leitz asked Garrett if that meant the school district would need to purchase new placards to replace the ones posted outside district schools. The yellow signs quote the Washington law that forbids the possession of tobacco, alcohol or firearms on campus.
Garrett responded to Leitz that the district would wait until the legislature adds marijuana to that specific piece of legislation.
Garrett believes that the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) will eventually craft a policy similar to the one on tobacco possession and usage and present it for statewide approval, but he estimated that any such activity would not occur until after the state legislative session concludes in April. He said he preferred to have something in place before then.
The board agreed with him.
The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with Educational Service District 112 (ESD) to move forward with hiring a K-12 prevention/intervention specialist for Wahkiakum schools beginning next fall.
Through federal funds administered by the state, each county receives grant money for one full-time prevention/intervention specialist in a single school district. In most counties, it’s a highly competitive process between districts, Garrett said, but in this county Wahkiakum School District gets the position by default.
He and an ESD representative met with county Human Services staff to discuss the opportunity. That agency has a responsibility to do some community planning, Garrett said, although there are no dollars attached for them. The grant requires an $11,000 annual cash match from the district, which would be about 25 percent of the cost of the salary and benefits without grant funding according to Garrett.
Garrett said the person in the position would be employed by the ESD, rather than the district, and considered a classified employee rather than a certificated employee. Although the ESD would be in charge, the district would have input during the hiring process. The program’s initial duration is for three years of funding.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” said Schubert. “It’s a much-needed position,” agreed board member Lee Tischer.
“In my opinion, it would be $11,00 very well spent,” Garrett said.