LONG BEACH — “The safety of kids is first and foremost in my mind,” said Ilwaco High School Principal David Tobin. “If we don’t take care of that, we don’t take care of them.”

Substance abuse, a school board vacancy and district policies were focuses of the Ocean Beach School District Board of Directors Feb. 27 meeting.

Youth substance use

“They say if your last training on substance abuse was two years ago, you’re two years behind,” said Tobin. “It changes that fast.”

Tobin addressed the board, focusing on OBSD student substance use.

“Something that hasn’t done schools any favors is the legalization of marijuana,” Tobin said. “It’s probably like how alcohol used to be.”

Consuming alcohol and marijuana is illegal for anyone under 21 years old in Washington state. Minors caught with alcohol or drugs may face jail time, fines and losing their driver’s license.

Pills have become more of an issue because they’re hard to detect, Tobin said. Tobacco is another concern because it’s used in Juuls, which contain the equivalent of several cigarettes, Tobin said.

“This isn’t just an issue at Ilwaco High School. It’s an issue across the state and the nation,” Tobin said. “These are issues that we’re facing and continuing to work on. These are the things that are on my mind 24/7; the things that keep me up at night.”

An “uptick” of underage substance use has been seen at Ocean Beach Alternative School, said Amy Huntley, incoming OBSD superintendent, OBAS principal and the district’s director of student learning.

“There’s always a lot of drug use at the alt school but there’s recently been a lot of unrepented drug use,” Huntley said.

Huntley and Tobin contacted the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction discipline office for advice.

“Almost everything they told us are things we’re already doing,” Huntley said.

Some of the measures taken at IHS to prevent youth substance use include bathroom checks and staff trainings, Tobin said. The school also has two counselors who focus on mental health, and drugs and alcohol.

“It sounds like you’re already doing a lot,” said OBSD board member Michael Robinson. “Thank you for hanging in there.”

Tobin said IHS staff is willing to try “anything and everything” to ensure the safety of students and fight youth substance use.

“We’ve lost some battles but like I’ve told the staff, we will win this battle,” Tobin said. “There’s no other choice.”

Board resignation

The board approved board member Kim Patten’s resignation.

“After more than 20 years on the board and 10 superintendents, it is time for some new blood and energy,” reads Patten’s resignation letter.

Patten, a Washington State University Extension Service scientist who is retiring from that job, joined the board in the 1990s. After growing up in California, he moved to the Peninsula in 1990 with his family.

“He’s been such a valuable component to the board,” Robinson said.

In a recent Chinook Observer interview, Patten said he hopes the board focuses on work-based learning, improving facilities, early education and overall academics.

Other business

Homeless students: About 20 percent of IHS students, a total of 56 students, are considered homeless, Tobin reported.

Capital levy: The district’s upcoming capital levy will ask for about half of what the district’s current levy does per $1,000 of assessed value, Superintendent Scott Fenter said. The levy will be on the April 23 special election ballot.

The levy focuses on establishing a single-point entry at each school, hiring a resource officer, installing an alarm system for exterior doors, installing cameras, installing fencing, and installing a portable classroom.

If passed, the levy will be for five years. During the first year, it would be for $0.05 per $1,000 of assessed value while it overlaps with the district’s retiring capital levy. During the following years, it would be $0.29 and $0.30 for two years each per $1,000 of assessed value.

“Thank you for approving the capital levy for safety. It’s going to be a huge asset for us,” Tobin said. “Kids for the most part are pretty good about not leaving campus but the one-buzz entrance is going to make a huge difference for us.”

Policy updates: The board also approved four policy updates and reviewed numerous others. The updated policies focus on school safety.

Topics focused on through the policies include interviews and interrogations of students on school premises, district relationships with law enforcement and other government agencies, notification of threats of violence or harm, and video surveillance.

Sports: High school sports enrollment is at a high, Tobin said.

OBSD’s next board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on March 27 at the district office, 500 S Washington Ave.

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or aevans@chinookobserver.com

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