Committee investigates risky behavior in schools |

Committee investigates risky behavior in schools

The majority of Truckee and North Tahoe students have reported they feel safe at school, but far fewer said they had meaningful relationships and opportunities for significant participation in their academic worlds, according to the results of the California Healthy Kids Survey.

Those statistics and a slew of others have served as a jumping point for the Education Matters Safe, Healthy Environment Committee, which has been meeting since the start of the school year and is exploring prevention, wellness and nutrition programs at each school site in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

The committee, composed of nearly 50 educators, parents, service providers and school administrators, will use its findings to support and bolster existing programs aimed at emotional, mental and physical well-being, or will develop new programs where needed, said Education Matters Coordinator Kim Bradley

“Our goal is to build upon what’s already there, not necessarily to recreate,” Bradley said.

Based on the results of the survey and its own findings, the committee has determined that local youth are reporting more incidents of harassment than the state average; students are reporting a lack of meaningful participation at school, and local high school binge-drinking rates are higher than both the state and national averages.

The Safe, Healthy Environment committee is still researching and reviewing data, but Bradley said the group would like to make a presentation of their findings to the school board in February and decide on the most efficient way to proceed.

“I would guess that we would be trying to identify which (existing) programs are having the best success, and then try to focus on those and make them happen at every school site,” said John Britto, committee member and district director of facilities.

But research and program development is only part of the puzzle, Britto said. Funding is the other half.

Local grant money might be available for Education Matters-related projects, Bradley said, but the group might also have to look to donors outside of the community for support.

The Safe, Healthy Environment committee is the first of eight committees to form as a result of the Education Matters project.

Education Matters is a collaborative effort between the school district, the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation and the Lahontan Community Foundation.

In May, nearly a dozen community forums were held in Truckee and on the North Shore at which parents, educators and students gathered to discuss educational needs and desires.

The community identified eight main priorities that the foundations will now take into consideration during their grant cycles and that the school district will take into consideration when developing curriculum and programming.

In March, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District administered its third bi-annual California Healthy Kids Survey as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The surveys ” given to students in fifth, seventh, ninth, and 11th grades ” broach such issues as self-efficacy, self-awareness, substance use, nutrition, and violence. The results are used to grow and develop effective school programming. Here are some statistics from this year’s survey:

In Elementary School …

– 53 percent of students at Kings Beach Elementary said they are doing something to lose weight ” that’s double the number from Tahoe Lake and 10 percent more than at Truckee Elementary.

– Three percent of students at Truckee Elementary reported they had brought a weapon to school

– 69 percent of Glenshire Elementary students said they had been left home alone compared to just 29 percent of children in Kings Beach.

In Middle School …

– 52 percent of students at Alder Creek Middle School said they have been driven by an intoxicated parent, whereas 41 percent of North Tahoe Middle School students reported the same.

– 11 percent of students at Alder Creek Middle School reported they were involved in gangs.

– 25 percent of North Tahoe Middle School students said they had been depressed in the past 12 months.

In High School…

– 100 percent of students said they would like more information on suicide, depression and controlling weight in a healthy way.

– 16 percent of students at Truckee High reported they had driven drunk or been driven by a drunk peer, while 6 percent of North Tahoe High students reported the same.

– 80 percent of Truckee High students expect to have sex within the next six months, but just 34 percent of North Tahoe High students expect the same.

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