Canine Narcotics Detection Dogs
Inspector Stuart Cameron, Commander of the Suffolk County Police Department Special Patrol Bureau gave the Board an overview of its program involving the use of canine narcotics detection dogs, which the district is considering for non-targeted random sweeps of Northport High School. The sniffs usually last for 30-40 minutes, or the length of one period while students are kept in their classrooms. The dogs are trained to detect illegal drugs only, including marijuana, heroin, opiates, and cocaine.
Cameron said five to six districts have participated in the program so far. In the 2010-2011 school year, 10 sweeps were conducted, resulting in two arrests. This year two sweeps have been conducted, which resulted in one hit on a locker containing empty glassine envelopes.
Trustee Joe Sabia, who is spearheading the initiative, said he had talked to some of the other schools who had participated. All were high schools, and Sabia said they were very satisfied with the results.
The district has the right to open any locker and search its contents. Cameron said the possibility exists that the highly sensitive dogs may "indicate" a locker which doesn't contain drugs, but could contain residue from the previous year. In response to several Board members' concerns about any stigma being attached to students, Cameron said it would be up to the district to tell either the student or parents that certain lockers were searched while students were in class.
Before the program can begin, the district would have to inform parents and students in writing. Board President Stephen Waldenburg said legal counsel will also be consulted to create a policy concerning the drug sniffs and the searching of lockers.
Five Year Capital Plan Update
The Operations and Maintenance Committee has updated the Five Year Capital Plan to include the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Over $27.5 million in projects are still on the list for recommended completion. PDFs of the Plan, the School Facilities Report Card compiled by ECG Engineering, the Executive Summary and Facilities Estimates are attached to this article.
Committee member Carl Litt said ECG does a walk-through of each building to make its recommendations. The Committee then prioritizes the projects based on safety and energy performance. Some of the projects, including lighting updates at all buildings and boiler replacements at six buildings, could possibly fall under the umbrella of an energy performance contract. The Board and legal counsel have been looking at possible vendors for more than a year, and Litt urged trustees to make a decision.
Established in 2008, the Capital Reserve Fund has a ten-year term with the maximum amount limited to $5 million. Funding from either budget appropriations or transfers from the unreserved fund balance is limited to $600,000 per year.
Trustees again floated the idea, first raised by former Trustee Joe Gannon earlier in the year, of adding a second capital reserve fund. Board VP Donna McNaughton said she has been working with legal counsel to craft a recommendation but that use of the fund would have to be very specific.
Jacob Littman was recognized as Social Studies Department Student of the Month.
Haley Merritt, Timothy Grant, James Martin, and Marc Schwartz were recognized as Boys/Girls State Leadership Program Award Recipients, sponsored by the .
Haley Merritt was recognized as a recipient of First Place Honors in the “A Hero in Service, a Hero at Home” essay contest sponsored by the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association.