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Jason Harris Appointed To Bethel Board Of Education


November 12, 2020

Alex Sloan

David Elmore, right, swears in Jason Harris to the Bethel School Board at the meeting held Monday, Nov. 9. Harris fills seat 3 recently vacated by Les Herman.

The Bethel School Board filled its final vacancy, seat number 3, Monday night by voting 3-0 to appoint Jason Harris to the board.

The appointment came after a brief fifteen minute executive session at the very beginning of the meeting. A quorum was established, with only Susan Watson absent from the meeting.

Once the three board members and Superintendent Tod Harrison returned to the public meeting, Harris was promptly appointed, sworn in, and seated with the board.

In an emailed statement the following morning, Harris said he is honored for the opportunity to serve on the board. He said he considers this an opportunity to give back to his community.

"I am hopeful my years of public service, experience with education, and nonprofit work will help our school and community move forward during these unprecedented times," Harris' statement read. "I have four children across the various BPS campuses and public education is very important to me."

With Harris seated, the board considered a lengthy consent agenda, with a number of routine reports, transfers, and approval of fundraising activities. They approved the items with a 4-0 vote.

Upkeep work out of the way, the board turned its attention to considering a contract with Quality Care Labs to provide student and bus driver drug testing. Harrison told the board that issues with their current provider had prompted this agenda item.

"We've had some issues with our contractor, who we're not under contract with," Harrison said.

Harrison confirmed with Principal Jeremy Stewart, who was in attendance, that the current provider had been working with the district for two years.

"We've just had some difficulties, and it's time to move on," Harrison said.

He said the new provider, Quality Care Labs, would cost the district just a few dollars more per test, but is well worth the added expense. Board President David Elmore wanted more information about the issues with the school's current drug test provider.

"Was the previous one not providing the tests on time, or ...? Elmore asked.

"She had missed a couple of appointments," Principal Stewart answered.

He said the current provider, who was unnamed at the meeting, was taking too long to process the tests.

"The normal range is 48 to 72 hours to get the test back. She was taking up to two weeks," Stewart said. "If you've got a football kiddo that's positive, you know, we have a kid that's going to miss three games, possibly if they were positive, because of the length of time it took her to get that back."

Elmore then asked Stewart how many students get tested in a year.

Stewart said that all students, grades 7-12, who are involved in any extracurricular activities get tested at the beginning of the year, along with random tests throughout the semesters. After the meeting, he further clarified that 20 high school and 10 middle school students are tested at random each month.

According to information presented at the meeting, the general price per test will go up from $15 to $20, but will no longer include additional fees for tests that have to be sent to the lab. Additionally, Stewart said the price will drop to $18 per test during the second year of service.

Finally, the board considered paying an annual renewal with Renaissance Learning using the district's county sales tax funds. Harrison explained that the company provides services like STAR reading, STAR math, and Accelerated Reader to the district's students.

The total cost for the annual subscription is $17,629.45, according to a quote attached to the meeting agenda. Board members voted 4-0 to use the county sales tax funds to pay for the renewal.

Before districts can access their county sales tax funds, the expenditure must also be approved by the county commissioners.


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