UNIONTOWN — Middle and high school students in the Uniontown Area School District will receive lessons in substance abuse prevention in a state-wide effort to curb opioid abuse.

The school board Monday approved drug prevention programs through a partnership with the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission to be implemented in compliance with Act 55, which was passed in 2017 requiring public school students in grades 6-12 to receive instruction related to opioid abuse prevention.

At the middle school level, the district will utilize Botvin LifeSkills Training, an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools throughout the U.S. and internationally. According to Botvin’s website, its programs are proven to reduce tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use in adolescents by as much as 80%.

Botvin will be implemented district-wide to sixth grade students for the 2019-20 school year, followed by grades 6-7 in 2020-21 and grades 6-8 in 2021-22.

At Uniontown Area High School, students will receive lessons through Project Towards No Drug Abuse, a drug prevention program developed at the University of Southern California Institute for Prevention Research that focuses instruction on motivation activities to not use drugs; skills in self-control, communication and coping; and decision-making strategies.

The two programs are among those recommended by the state Department of Education as substance use prevention programs that can implemented in schools.

Turning to personnel matters, the board Monday approved the assignment of Lafayette Middle School Principal Lauren Clemmer as principal of the entirety of the K-8 school.

Clemmer’s salary was approved at $76,500, an increase from the $71,240 she received in 2018-19, which was subject to a contractual 2% raise that was due in the upcoming year, said district Superintendent Dr. Charles Machesky.

Machesky said elementary principal Jennifer George will transfer to the district’s central administration office, a move that does not require board approval due to no change in salary.

Clemmer has served as principal of Lafayette’s 6-8 grades since the midpoint of the 2017-18 school year. At the time of Clemmer’s hiring, Machesky said the demanding K-8 school has historically required two principals.

In addition to the administrative moves, the board hired Rebecca Skwarko as a high school biology teacher and Sara Swaney as a special education teacher at Ben Franklin School, as well as Mary Tarpley as a school community resource officer assigned to Lafayette School, whose salary was set at $40,000.

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