The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Board members wary of cannabis implementation

 

August 14, 2019

David Grieder

Board Secretary Randy Rankin said he had concerns with who would administer medical cannabis at school and how it would be stored. Superintendent Johnnie Cain, at left, said "the only thing that we can't do is get out of storing it."

PORTALES - Qualified students may be able to receive medical cannabis at school, but Portales school board members on Tuesday were wary of how the new policy would be implemented.

The discussion came up during a first reading of policy manual revisions, which also included items on programs for pregnant/parenting students, entrance age requirements and make-up opportunities.

Senate Bill 204, signed into law April 4 by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, states that "local school boards ... shall adopt policies and procedures to authorize the possession, storage and administration of medical cannabis by parents and legal guardians, or by designated school personnel, to qualified students for use in school settings."

Medical cannabis can treat conditions such as glaucoma, cancer, seizures and PTSD, said PMS Superintendent Johnnie Cain. To qualify to receive the medication at school, a student must have a written treatment plan and multiple forms of documentation of a condition and need for medication.

Cain said the "law and rule provides that we can call the parents to come in and distribute" capsules of medical cannabis, but "the only thing that we can't do is get out of storing it."

Board Secretary Randy Rankin said he was concerned with the idea of cannabis on school grounds at all, particularly if an unauthorized student attempted to take it from where it's stored. Others in attendance floated the idea of keeping the capsules in a more secure location, perhaps a vault.

Board member Antonio Sanchez Jr. said he was "more comfortable letting parents do it," as opposed to determining exactly what kind of staff person would be qualified to dispense in school. He said he had visited dispensaries in Colorado out of curiosity and was surprised at the discreet ways the substance can be administered.

"They're in sports drinks, they're in cookies, they're in candies," he said. "We can't fight it, it's inevitable."

The board took no action, but President Inez Rodriguez advised "we have to keep an open mind" when it comes to the new policies.

All board members were present and votes unanimous. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the L.C. Cozzens Administrative Offices. Also at Tuesday's meeting:

• In his report Cain noted that so far things were going smoothly during the first week back in class for grades 3-12.

"I haven't heard anything bad all day long, so I think it started pretty well," he said. This year cursive instruction is back on the curriculum for third through sixth grade. Work is also in progress at the Portales High School toward installing eight new light poles at the gymnasium and blocks in the parking lot to discourage speeding.

• Approval of eighth-grade algebra I as a high school credit for students who completed the course before the 2018-19 school year. Cain said the measure would help students who need four math credits to graduate.

• Approval of travel requests, three of which are for the PHS boys and girls basketball games in Texas. The fourth request was for PHS student Parker Yi and a chaperone to travel Nov. 7-9 to Florida as one of a few hundred participants selected among thousands of entries to the National Association for Music Education Honors Ensemble. Yi, who plays the euphonium, appeared before the board and said he is already putting some of his own funds toward the trip. The board wished him well.

• Acceptance of a public school capital outlay appropriation of $482,468 for school security projects. Cain said "this was everything we asked for" and would go toward completing fencing, radios and hand-held communications as well as new servers to all six schools.

• Authorization of an increase to $200 for the junior high school athletics department's petty cash fund.

• Approval of payroll procedure/schedule establishing a payday for substitute teachers on the 15th and 30th of each month, in keeping with the payday schedule of regular employees.

 
 

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