Superintendent Rodge Wilson said there have been discussions about the program before, though it was never implemented due to lack of approval for funding. Sheriff Todd Corbin attended a Western Reserve school board meeting in August to discuss a new agreement regarding the program under his administration.
The agreement, Corbin said, includes partial funding from the Ohio Attorney General through the Drug Use Prevention Grant. According to the Ohio Attorney General website, the grant is awarded “to law enforcement agencies to establish and implement drug abuse resistance education programs in public schools.”
The website states funds from the grant are to be used “to pay for not more than 50 percent of the amount of the salaries of law enforcement officers who conduct drug abuse resistance education programs in public schools.”
In previous years, Wilson said the school board was unable to gain approval to fund the remaining 50 percent of program costs. Under Corbin’s administration, Wilson said there had been discussion about possible adjustments to make up for “that missing half of the grant.”
Corbin said the school districts normally covered by his office sign an agreement to have a deputy teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum. Western Reserve and South Central are in the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, but New London Local Schools has added a deputy-led D.A.R.E. program.
“Western was given the opportunity, but they didn’t sign it at the time; so we’re in the process of trying to make an addendum to that agreement to see if we can get that signed on,” Corbin said.
Corbin said he thinks the program will eventually be implemented, but that it will take time.
“It’s happening, it’s just a slow conversation that’s taking place,” the sheriff added.
Overall, Corbin said everyone seemed receptive at the board meeting, but to get approval, they still need to convince the school board that the program is “worth the effort and the money.”
“It’s more than D.A.R.E, so we’re trying to get that out there,” Corbin said. “We want to have a rapport with the kids, we want to have a rapport with the teachers, we want to be a conduit for people to come forward and report crime.”
Deputy Mitchel Cawrse said he thinks the biggest impact D.A.R.E. has on students is not necessarily the lessons themselves, but the presence of a positive role model and “someone they can go to” if there are issues or they get stuck in drug-related situations.
“Even if it has an impact on one or two kids, we’ve done our job,” he said.
Corbin said he plans to attend the next school board meeting to discuss the D.A.R.E. program in greater detail and to present the board with more information.
“Every school system is different,” Corbin said. “What works for South Central may not work for New London; what works for New London may not work for Western and that’s what I’m trying to do is have something in place so we can work to facilitate their needs and what they want to see happen.”
In order to move forward with the conversation, Wilson said he will need to contact the necessary state departments for guidance, but that the school board will be working with Corbin and Cawrse to learn more about the program.
“The board is interested in furthering these discussions,” Wilson said. “My hope would be to have answers by the September board meeting.”