The Onteora District Board of Education had its first reading on a new policy that would allow the administration of Naloxone, also known as the opioid overdose prevention drug called Narcan. A second reading and possible vote will follow at the next Board meeting on March 15. Two readings on new policies or if changes are made to already existing policies are required so the public can weigh in.
At the Tuesday, March 1, Board of Education meeting at Woodstock Primary School, Trustees questioned who could have access to Narcan in the school. Interim Superintendent Victoria McLaren said the district physician recommended it stay limited to district nurses and the district physician. In the event of an overdose to an opioid substance such as heroin, when given, Narcan can block the opioid and immediately place the person into withdrawal. It is life saving, however the side effects can be severe.
The board had three policy options to choose from. “We chose the option based on our medical director’s input in which our school physician writes an open script for our licensed nurses to be allowed to administer this drug,” said McLaren. “Because there are a lot of issues involved in administering this drug, our nurses will have the training and it is a drug that needs to be inventoried and the reports need to be made when it’s administered.” The State Department of Health is giving out the kits following half-hour training. McLaren said some nurses voiced concerns because, “some of these trainings do not include even CPR to go with it. And sometimes when this drug is administered, people react badly and sometimes people stop breathing. So for right now we want to start with our licensed professionals having the ability and the wherewithal to administer this drug and when we move forward, maybe look at other options.”
Trustee Rob Kurnit said another option made it possible for community volunteers to access the drug so that during events when the school nurse is not available it could still be accessed. “This was considered by the policy committee with the ideal that we look in the future on how we can incorporate this further, ” he said. Another choice the policy committee looked at was, that an outside agency would control it through the school physician.
The policy reading came as word got around of yet another young person and former Onteora student succumbing to an alleged heroin overdose. Earlier during the meeting, Trustee Laurie Osmond commented on his death. “I want to just take a minute to acknowledge the struggle of young people in the community and in the region that are dealing with addiction and just ask we hold his family in our thoughts and do what we can on an ongoing basis to encourage dialogue, share information, keep the conversation going and do what we can to combat this.”
Utilizing district resources
Trustees discussed the idea of publicizing events from outside organizations that use school property. Osmond said, “On March 16 Oscar nominated Director Josh Fox (Gasland) will be at Onteora High School with a screening of his new film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. The screening is through the Woodstock Film Festival and not the school or district. Osmond explained that district lawyers voiced caution about allowing publicity through school resources, that it may be a slippery slope toward violating district neutrality. “And while that exists in the world, with the theoretical, ‘let’s not get sued,’ mindset,” said Osmond, “I feel like we’ve had a lot of conversation lately about how to improve communication, how to improve a sense of community, how to be less of a bubble room from the community around us.”
Trustee Valerie Storey disagreed. “Why are we paying? As a tax payer myself, I would have a problem to pay the communication person to do this.”
Osmond suggested to use the “minimum amount of effort,” without hiring or using a communication person, but instead go through district resources as “community good will.”
Kurnit suggested, with the agreement of other trustees that the proposal go through the policy committee. In the mean time, newly appointed Trustee Bennet Ratcliff reiterated in jovial humor of free newspaper advertisement, that the documentary is being screened at the High School Auditorium on March 16, at 6 p.m. Fox will also be available for a question and answer period following the film. Tickets are free however; reservations are required by going to Woodstockfilmfestival.com.
By board resolution two new full-time employee positions were created — a Director of Technology and an in district Network System Specialist (this position is currently being filled through BOCES). McLaren said the system specialist who is responsible for maintaining technology that is used throughout the district is more costly through BOCES since it only reimburses a portion of the cost up to $30,000. Although it’s creating the two new full time positions, the district will continue to use a part time system specialist through BOCES at no cost. The new Director of Technology position is an administrative job and will oversee technology needs.