Concerns about vaping at MHS, BMS brought before Meeker BOE

According to the CDC, Colorado youth are vaping nicotene at twice the national average. ADOBE STOCK | HERALD TIMES

MEEKER | Meeker High School Principal Amy Chinn and Barone Middle School Principal Jim Hanks spoke with the school board about a dramatic increase in the number of students caught “vaping” this year. There have been numerous suspensions for tobacco-related violations of school policy, mostly related to vaping, or e-cigarettes.

“This is not unique to our school district,” said Superintendent Chris Selle. “We’re addressing this to the best of our abilities.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at twice the national average, the highest rate of 37 states surveyed.

“There are kids who don’t realize there’s nicotine in the vapor,” Hanks said.

The district treats vaping as a violation of the district’s tobacco-free policy, with a minimum in-school suspension. All the instances so far this year have been out-of-school suspensions, including suspension from extracurricular activities.

“The thing that should worry us most is what we don’t know about that [vaping] juice or oil. It’s like in the 1950s with smoking. We didn’t know lives were being shortened until the next generation,” Hanks said.

Both principals and the board agreed to pursue additional informational programs for the students and to share information with parents.

“We’re probably in need of a cessation program for kids right now,” Hanks said.

Board members also reviewed policy updates about open enrollment, threat assessment, and student discipline, including the district’s dress code.

Board member Kevin Amack asked if the code needed to be adapted in light of news that some districts are relaxing their dress codes.

“The purpose of the dress code is to teach kids how to dress appropriately for a given situation,” Selle said. “It’s never all right to tell girls they can’t dress a certain way because boys can’t handle it. That’s the boys’ problem.”

In the superintendent’s report, Selle said the district has about 10 more full-time students than planned.

“We’re at capacity in a few places in terms of class sizes,” he said.

The district is getting quotes to replace the septic system at the bus garage.

“All they have [at the bus garage] right now is a porta-potty,” Selle said.

The board also approved resolutions in support of Bond Issue 4A and Amendment 73. (See the board’s op-ed on Page 4A regarding Bond Issue 4A.)