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Medical Examiner solicits Somerset School District’s help with addiction and suicide prevention

Patty Schachtner, Chief Medical Examiner for St. Croix County, in conjunction with the St. Croix County Suicide Prevention Task Force and the Drug Abuse Task Force solicited support from the Somerset Board of Education for a project targeting addiction issues and suicide prevention county wide among students grades 6-12. Schachtner is also a candidate running for a Somerset School Board seat in the April 7 election.

“Our suicide numbers in St. Croix County are above the national average and our drug overdose numbers are double the national average,” Schachtner said. “We’ve had two suicides and two drug overdoses already this year. We know we have a problem. We also know we can’t solve this alone. We need everyone to help us. We’ve found that people don’t have access to resources. We want to create a resource manual. We are asking each district to commit an Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse (AODA) person to our committee along with another volunteer from the community.”

The goal of the project is to author a resource guide. About 50,000 copies will be distributed to all students grades 6-12 county-wide on the first day of school as well as directly to residents’ mail boxes via the Scotsman, Hot Sheet and Glenwood City paper. Schachtner is meeting with officials from all of the affiliated districts in an effort to get everyone on board.

To help pay for the production, Schachtner announced that a fundraising benefit will be held at The Orchard in Baldwin May 17 in hopes of raising $20,000. Each district is being asked to supply one artist. Junior leaders representing each district from the county extension office will work with the artists to create original works of art to be auctioned off at the benefit.

To help raise awareness about suicide prevention, Schachtner’s office will bring standup comedian and mental health activist Kevin Breel to the New Richmond High School auditorium for a free performance Monday, April 6. The focus of a popular TED Talk dealing with depression, Breel got as far as penning a suicide note when he was 19.

Middle and High School Health Instructor Sarah Colling used a slide presentation to report the most recent findings of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered to 538 middle and high school students between 2012 and 2014. The survey anonymously generates data dealing with wide-ranging destructive behaviors and attitudes in at risk youth and compares local results with county, state and national results. The behaviors monitored by the Wisconsin YRBS include weapons and violence; suicide; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behavior; and diet, nutrition and exercise. Colling uses the data as a guide for preparing her teaching and counseling curriculum.

“The survey helps us come up with solutions. How do we plan health education class? How do we plan family living class? What speakers to do we bring in to address issues? What local coalitions can we partner with?” said Colling.

One solution Colling has adopted is Project Implicit from the Minnesota Public School System which helps students identify diversity biases at the high school level. Colling uses other programs like Name It, Claim It and Reframe it to help students identify and take responsibility for changing their behavior.

Following Colling’s presentation Board Vice President Robert Gunther suggested that she post the survey results to the district’s website so parents can also access the results.

Other business

• Following a closed session, District Administrator Randy Rosburg announced three teachers have agreed to accept early incentive retirement packages, effective the end of the current school year.

“These are elective retirements that will help us create a balanced budget so we will not have to non-renew any teachers from the elementary school,” Rosburg said.

• The board approved the 2015-16 Employee Assistance Program Fee for Service Contract with Family Means including an annual administrative fee of $1,100 and estimated annual program costs of $2,156.

• The board approved the 2015-16 CESA 11 Shared Services Contract.

• Board member Tom Walters reported CESA 11 expects to suffer a $21,000 shortfall due to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.

• District Administrator Rosburg reported Amy Arnold of RMM Solutions has proposed a hybrid BYOD solution that would allow students to provide their own devices provided they meet specifications to be provided by the district. Based on the number of students providing their own devices, the district could then determine how many devices it would need to provide for students without access to their own devices.

Due to holiday scheduling the next regular meeting of the school board will be Monday, April 20.