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WCPS to spend $60,000 on bullying prevention

August 04, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County Public Schools will spend a little more than $60,000 on materials to teach faculty how to recognize and deal with bullying.

The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday to spend the money on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which school officials say is supported by more than 35 years of research and has been used successfully worldwide.

In addition to the $60,033 base cost, the school system will spend $17,500 per year to maintain the program.

Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael said after the board meeting that the program will be phased in over the next few years.

State law mandates that public school systems have anti-bullying campaigns, he said. The state, however, does not supply the funding.

The school system will pay for the program using money from the Instructional Materials Budget, said Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent for secondary education.

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John Davidson, director of student services, told board members that the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is the most distinguished program of its kind available.

Davidson said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that bullying was reduced by 30 percent to 70 percent in places where the program was put into practice. Significant reductions in fighting, vandalism and antisocial behavior also were noted, he said.

Materials for the program include "step-by-step guides, DVDs and CD-ROMs containing print resources," according to school board documents.

Some board members said they were concerned that the program would further burden an already overworked faculty.

"It's another mandate," school board President Wayne Ridenour said. "Every minute you take to do one thing, you have to take a minute away (from something else)."

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