School administrators watching Juneau's drug testing program

Posted: Monday, August 31, 2009

JUNEAU - Fairbanks North Star Borough high school athletic directors are interested to see the effects of Juneau School District's decision to begin randomly drug-testing athletes this fall, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported last week.

However, Juneau's program did not incur strong reactions from them, the newspaper reported.

Hutchison High School activities coordinator Jennifer Benson said she would have trouble supporting a policy that did not include similar drug testing of teachers and school district employees.

Monroe Catholic High School athletic director Frank Ostanik heard about problems with drugs in Juneau and said testing could be the answer there, but he doesn't see the same problems at Monroe.

"I know our kids here, and I never really felt that we have a need," said Ostanik, who joined the private school's faculty a year ago.

Walter Armstrong of North Pole High School and Missy Poeschel of West Valley High School declined to comment to the newspaper specifically on Juneau's policy.

"I'd love to see all the kids at North Pole High School be drug- and alcohol-free, and they'd all be involved in activities and all get great grades," Armstrong said.

"I'm also a realist, and I know that those problems exist."

Gary Matthews, executive director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said ASAA supports Juneau's policy but will not be directly involved.

Matthews will be making note of the testing program's details and effectiveness, and he knows he won't be alone.

"Superintendents around the state will be watching it," he said.

Nancy Wagner, FNSB superintendent, is one of those who will be watching.

"Implementing new policies that are controversial can be a real challenge and usually entails some lessons we can learn from," she wrote to the newspaper in an e-mail. "I am sure the events associated with Juneau's new policy will prompt discussions across the state."

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