Board addresses alcohol, pot use among Aspen students |

Board addresses alcohol, pot use among Aspen students

Katie Redding
Aspen, CO Colorado
The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Is reducing the statistically high use of alcohol and marijuana at Aspen High School the duty of the Aspen School District ” or the community? In a discussion Monday night, most board members appeared to favor addressing the issue, but details were not finalized.

The discussion rekindled a nine-month board debate about whether it ought to have a policy specifically addressing nutrition, sexual behavior and alcohol and drug use. The discussion was sparked by the release of a February 2008 study that put the use of marijuana and alcohol at Aspen High at twice the national average.

“I think [substances] are very commonplace, more than we think,” said board member Ernie Fyrwald. “The reality is,” he said, quoting the study, “14 percent of the kids are high-risk drinkers.”

The representatives from Freedom from Chemical Dependency who administered the study noted that Aspen students have grown up watching casual pot use in places like chairlifts, Aspen High principal Charlie Anastas said.

“Our community is different,” he said.

Board member Elizabeth Parker suggested drug and alcohol use ought to be in a policy ” because without one, the board would not be compelled to examine the issue annually. But the right policy proved difficult.

“Is there a policy that will make a difference in the amount of drug and alcohol use?” Parker asked. “What are the reasons alcohol and drug use are so high?”

“How are we going to measure some of the pieces?” said Superintendent Diana Sirko. “Especially sexual activity?”

But several board members suggested that alcohol and drug use could be measured by continuing to administer the Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FDC) study.

“Frankly, if the FCD report comes back every year and stats go up, we’re not getting through,” board member Fred Peirce said.

But Sirko suggested that student use shouldn’t be the only measure. Saying she was “terribly alarmed” by students who reported that they had driven after drinking, or driven with someone who had, Sirko wondered aloud about the community’s role in underage substance use.

She suggested the board ought to also measure community involvement with the issue.

“This is a full-court press to be able to resolve this issue,” she said.

The board will discuss the issue further on March 10.

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