Clarendon Hills rolls DARE into existing school program
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:55AM
CLARENDON HILLS — Days are numbered for the DARE program in town.
The Village Board took action Monday to incorporate the drug education programinto the existing Social Emotional Learning for Academic Success Program in Hindale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181.
Prospect and Walker elementary schools and Clarendon Hills Middle School are the three District 181 schools located in town. All have been involved with the DARE program. DARE is a national program aimed at giving kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence.
Police Chief Ted Jenkins said for about the past 10 years the village has dedicated a full-time officer to being in schools, including being the instructor for the DARE program. The cost of that officer was about $140,000 annually for salary and benefits, Jenkins said.
The DARE officer spent 61 percent of his time in the schools in 2011, which accounted for $85,400 of the expense for salary and benefits.
Jenkins said longtime DARE officer Rick Talerico did sometimes help with other duties, but never was regularly scheduled to be on the street as a patrol officer.
“Officer Talerico has been plugged back into the patrol rotation,” Village Manager Randy Recklaus said.
A handful of parents expressed great concern at an Aug. 6 meeting about the elimination of the program, which has been taught during the second semester of school years. They were especially concerned with a proposed change to reduce classroom time of an officer to 40 hours a year from 431 total hours in 2011.
“We’re not stuck on that number, and that certainly won’t be the case during this transition,” Jenkins said.
Two Walker School parents said they feel considerably more positive about plans now to incorporate the program into SELAS.
“A few board members reached out to us after the last meeting, and we feel now that they’re not just going to take everything away from us,” said Lisa Deering, a Walker mom.
Both Deering and fellow Walker parent Kari Meyer said they are very pleased former Walker principal Kevin Russell, now District 181’s director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, will head the effort.
“I also think this is good because more people in the community will find out about SELAS, which is important,” Meyer said.
The District 181 plan uses the fall semester to develop a new curriculum.
The timetable includes assembling a community group to examine both the DARE and SELAS curriculums in September, the October creation of a new program that merges the two programs, a November presentation of the new program to the Village and School boards, training December 2012-February 2013 of staff and implementation March-June 2013. .~