The Wautoma Area School District, located in central Wisconsin, submits this Middle School Drug Prevention and School Safety Coordinator Program proposal in order to address the significant drug, discipline, and safety problems among its middle school students in grades five through nine. The epicenter of these issues stems from the students at the Parkside Middle School, wherein this proposed initiative will be implemented.
The district is characterized as being very rural and isolated, is home for a high migrant population, and has a high level poverty. The area is typified by rolling, pastoral landscapes and long stretches of agricultural operations. What once was a haven of security and hope, has now become threatened by drug use and violence. Newspaper headlines over the past year depict stories of bomb threats. Alcohol and turbulent behavior referrals to county service agencies have skyrocketed and additional staff have been added to handle the ever-increasing need for services. District officials agree that "what they used to see in high school, they now see in middle school."
Widespread lack of services is evident from the following: there is no full-time leadership in prevention programming - the existing part-time (1O%O AODA Coordinator is a full-time science teacher wearing multiple hats and shouldering multiple responsibilities with little time allocated to and available for coordinating services for students; the lack of time and resources allows for insufficient and current needs assessments; no formal research is done to identify' proven prevention programming; no formal analysis of current prevention programming is taking place; and the districts is located in very rural area where resources and services are "patchy" or nonexistent. Because there are no organizations that offer alternative activities for students, such as Boys Club, Girls Club, or YMCA/YWCA, the school has become responsible for "opening up its doors" to the community. With revenue caps in place, the district is financially challenged to provide additional programming. Finally, lack of community involvement and awareness inhibits the community from taking "ownership" of these issues.
The district will address all of these issues with this initiative with the intended outcome to institutionalize the Coordinator position and research-based prevention programming into the system, giving it the capacity to yield long-term results and achieve success for years to come. The district will hire a full-time Middle School Coordinator who will achieve the overarching goals of this project:
To improve drug prevention and school safety programming within the district by institutionalizing full-time leadership in prevention programming that implements research-based, effective programming and which
will be based on the Principles of Effectiveness as set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.
To develop widespread community awareness of and involvement in drug and violence issues among youth, and support of prevention programming efforts.
In light of these aspirations, the Middle School Coordinator will be responsible for improving prevention programming by conducting current needs assessment, evaluating any on-going prevention strategies, review and implement new research-based prevention strategies, and evaluate their effectiveness. The creation of an Advisory Board, Youth Leadership Team, an Adult Leadership Team, and a Community Coalition in the district consisting of representatives of all stakeholders will complete grass roots ownership of this project. Many important linkages with community-based agencies providing services to the target population in grades five through nine will be developed or enhanced.
In summary, it's the kids that will benefit. Community partners and educators at the Wautoma School District are committed to forging a strong bond in the interest of providing prevention programming to assist these at-risk students on their journey through the middle and high school years, affirming that "it is our human, legal, and ethical responsibility to meet the unique needs of all individuals and to provide opportunities for success."