WAVERLY — Members of the Abington Heights School Board are considering stocking naloxone, an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, in all school buildings. The board discussed the issue during a work session meeting at Waverly Elementary School on Oct. 7.
“It’s a very important issue with respect to student safety and substance abuse,” Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon said. “For years, we’ve been talking about heroine and overdoses. We recently received a letter from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Secretary of the Department of Health and Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, suggesting public schools consider stocking naloxone in their nurses’ office.”
According to Mahon, physicians, local pharmacists and the deputy secretary of the state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs all say the drug has no side effects.
“The thought is we would take the over-the-counter prescription of naloxone in the nasal form and stock it in our nurses’ station,” Mahon said. “We stock EpiPen’s for bee stings and peanut allergies and we have defibrillators on hand for someone who may have an issue with their heart rhythm. We would have this on hand as another tool to respond to an emergency crisis.”
In other business, the board discussed bidding out bus routes in an effort to possibly decrease expenditures and improve the efficiency of the district’s bus systems.
“We spend about $1.5 million on buses each year, excluding vans, and we’re reimbursed $1 million,” Mahon said. “We currently have six contractors who provide services to our routes. We’ve been able to do a reasonable job negotiating yearly increases and have not gone to the market to see if the prices are competitive. There is no obligation for the district to bid routes, but we have an obligation to make sure we’re getting the best services at the best value.
“We would intend to bid out each individual route.”
According to Mahon, the current process of hiring local vendors has been beneficial, but the district plans to examine other alternatives.
“It’s good for us, from a business standpoint, to have local vendors. We have tried over the years to improve efficiencies with our routes, but we’re not absolutely certain we have the most efficient routes,” he said.
Board member Frank Santoriello stressed the well-being of students should always remain at the forefront of the conversation.
“As a grandparent, I don’t want safety trumped by efficiencies,” he said.
Dave Jones addressed members of the board to question the reasons informational flyers for activities such as the Forever Young Fishing Derby and Abington Lions Club Santa Project can’t be sent home with students.
“We feel terrible about not being able to support the many positive community events going on,” Mahon said. “Prior to the last two years, when we starting cutting back, we would send home materials for all kinds of groups. We had an issue where we had concerns about a particular piece of material that was asked to be taken home in our students’ backpacks. We refused to send it home and, shortly thereafter, received notice from a law firm that it must be sent home. When we consulted with our attorneys, they said, ‘if you fight this, you’ll end up paying legal bills.’ If we send one home, we have to send them all home. In an effort to find a solution, we’ve taken the position that, in order to avoid sending materials home that would be inappropriate, we’ve decided not to send home any materials.”
It was announced that Waverly Elementary is one of 332 schools to be designated as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2015 by the United States Department of Education.
“We’d like to congratulate the whole school community,” School Board Vice President Warren Acker said. “It’s a testament to everyone involved, especially our students.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.