More than 1,000 drug tests done on athletes annually.
For years, the Macon County School System has been drug testing athletes each year inhouse. Headed by Dan Moore, director of personnel, drug tests were performed on every student athlete in the district on an annual basis. Moore has been searching for ways to contract out the services at a rate that would still be advantageous for the school system, but was unsuccessful until this year.
Beginning next school year, Macon County Schools will employ the services of Preventative Drug Testing Services, LLC (PDTS), a North Carolina limited liability company, to drug test athletes in the district. Macon County's current drug testing policy is to test every student that participates in any athletics at Franklin High School, Highlands School, Nantahala, and Macon Middle School. During the 2012-13 school year, Moore and his staff conducted 1,076 drug screens on student athletes.
Once drug screens are completed on students, some cases are referred to the state lab for further evaluation. The preliminary costs of the drug screens in-house, which were conducted by Moore and an assistant using kits from Noble Diagnostics, cost the school system $7.95 per integrated cup and if the test needed to be sent to the state lab for further confirmation, it would cost an additional $37. This school year, Macon County Schools spent $8,554.20 in kit costs and an additional $851 for result confirmations totaling $9,405.20.
The new contract with PDTS will cost the school system $8.52 per testing kit and $30 for additional confirmation. Based on this school year's numbers, the cost of PDTS would have been $9,857.52.
“While PDTS is about $450 more than what it cost us to do them in house, the school system would save money in the time and money I am paid to conduct the tests throughout the district,” said Moore at Monday night’s school board meeting. “Having a third party conduct the test also allows any risk of accusations of bias to be eliminated, which is why I started to do them instead of the school's athletic director in the first place.
The contract with PDTS allows either party to terminate the contract at any time for any reason, a condition that board chair Jim Breedlove favored. “I think it will be a great thing to have a third party conduct the tests, which is something we have tried to do for some time now,” said Breedlove. “And the fact that we can end the contract whenever we want, is definitely a plus.”
Moore bid out the drug screens services contract, and PDTS was the lowest offer, with the next one coming in at $14,793, which is $5,387.80 more than what the school system pays now.
2012-13 drug testing results
Moore conducted 1,076 drug screens throughout the district at Macon Middle School, Nantahala School, Highlands School and Franklin High School.
Franklin High School
Five hundred thirteen (513) drug screens were completed on student athletes at Franklin High School. One student athlete chose to no longer participate in interscholastic athletics upon completion of the initial drug screen process. The results of 20 student athletes were forwarded to the lab for further analysis. Seventeen results were negative, with three results indicating positive. Of the three results that indicated positive, two student athletes chose to no longer participate in interscholastic athletics, with one student athlete that chose to be referred to complete Section 5-A under Macon County Schools Board of Education policy 470.
Section 5-A outlines the requirements of first time offenders and states: “At maximum, the student will be ineligible to participate for the remainder of that sport’s season. The principal may shorten this athletic suspension based on the following mitigating factors:
Two hundred four (204) drug screens were completed on the student athletes at Highlands School. The result of one student-athlete was forwarded to the lab for further analysis, with the result being negative. One additional student athlete was cited for a second time and was referred to complete Section 5-B under Macon County Schools Board of Education Policy 470.
Section 5-B outlines the requirements of second time offenders and states: “At maximum, the student will be ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletics for a period of 365 days or some shorter time as determined by the principal. In making his or her determination, the principal may consider the following:
Thirty (30) drug screens were completed on the student athletes at Nantahala School. No results were forwarded to the lab for further analysis.
Macon Middle School
Three hundred twenty-nine (329) drug screens were completed on the student athletes at Macon Middle School. The results of two student athletes were forwarded to the lab for further analysis, both results were negative.
Additional sports costs
In addition to reevaluating the school system's drug testing policy to be more cost effective and efficient, Moore also presented the school board with an analysis of costs to participate in school athletics. Moore solicited information from districts with which Macon County often competes.
To play sports in Macon County, students are not required to pay a participation fee and the school system foots the bill for any transportation costs associated with the travel of the teams. With looming budget cuts and the system's current financial state, the school board is looking at all areas of revenue and considering all options.
According to Moore, student athletes in Buncombe County are not required to pay a participation fee, but the individual teams are responsible for generating a fuel charge for transportation at a cost of $20 per athlete. Neither Cherokee County schools or Henderson County schools require a participation fee, but Cherokee County asks for a 65 cents per mile charge for non-conference games while Henderson County requires each team to pay $1 per mile for each away game.
Both Haywood County and Jackson County schools require a $10 participation fee per athlete at the beginning of the season and both districts charge a $1 per mile fuel charge for each away game a team has.
“We [Macon County] currently do neither a participation fee or fuel charge and while we would like to keep it that way as long as possible, we have to consider all options at this point,” said Moore.
The school board shared a general consensus to take the information under consideration for future budget discussions but did not indicate if a participation fee or fuel fee would be likely for Macon County’s student athletes in the near future.