School board expands LeaderForLife student wellness program

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In an effort to strengthen the district’s substance abuse prevention efforts, the Lake Travis school board voted unanimously to expand the LeaderForLife student wellness program during its regular meeting May 16. 
 
Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, enrollment in the LeaderForLife program—which includes random student drug testing—will be determined as follows:

  • Voluntary enrollment for students in grades 7-12 who are not involved in school-sponsored competitive extracurricular activities (with parental permission)
  • Mandatory enrollment for students in grades 7-8 participating in school-sponsored competitive extracurricular activities
  • Mandatory enrollment for students in grades 9-12 participating in school-sponsored competitive extracurricular activities
  • Mandatory enrollment for high school students who obtain a parking pass

Additionally, the board approved transitioning from the current method of saliva- to urine-based testing. There will be a minimum of four rounds of testing annually, and each round will include no less than 5% of students enrolled in the program.  Changes to the program were recommended in part by the LeaderForLife advisory committee in conjunction with the district’ School Health Advisory Council. 
 
“Our intent is to provide students with an opportunity to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard, to empower them to lead a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle,” said Dr. Brad Lancaster, Lake Travis ISD Superintendent of Schools.  “It is less about punishing students who test positive for drugs or alcohol and is more about offering resources and support to students and their families.”
 
District and school officials are currently designing wrap-around support services, including counseling, for students who test positive for drug use. 

After a 2013 survey determined that approximately 35% of 10th- and 12th-grade students at Lake Travis High School reported using marijuana, LeaderForLife was launched in February 2016.  The program is comprised of four major components: academics, leadership, service, and accountability, the latter of which included voluntary random drug testing of students in grades 9-12.  In its first year, 640 students were enrolled in the program of which 95 were randomly drug tested.  Presently, 1,153 students are enrolled in the program.  San Angelo, TX-based Melody’s Southwest Consortium manages the testing in conjunction with district and school officials.

Expansion of the wellness program as approved by the school board—which includes drug testing and student counseling support—is projected to cost up to $120,000, depending on the number of students tested and the frequency of testing. 

Additional details about the LeaderForLife program will be shared during back-to-school season later this summer.