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Care of youths' social well-being

The ADA-PEP program is a drug abuse prevention program that has provided services to Skaneateles Middle School students for 21 years. In June, that program was cut in half with no input from parents or consultation with the professional counseling staff in the district.

The multifaceted program provided drug abuse prevention education to all 400 Middle School students, which included bullying prevention and education, drug abuse prevention skills (i.e., conflict resolution skills, stress management skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, body-image education, and drug education). Another 150 to 180 students were involved in individual counseling, 60 to 70 students in groups that focused on friendship skills or coping with divorce, another 60 to 90 students in the Rite Aid Drug Quiz Show, 20 to 30 students in Service Learning (mentoring inner-city Elementary students, 20 to 25 MS students were involved in a tutor/mentor program with trained high school students, who met weekly throughout the school year. The ADA-PEP counselor also worked yearly with a high school counselor to provide a half-day Bullying Education & Prevention workshop for the entire 6th Grade class, facilitated by 40 to 50 trained HS students. The program counselor also conferred regularly with 6th to 8th teachers regarding student's academic and emotional concerns.

Regular support and guidance was shared with parents, and parenting classes were attended by many over the 21 years. Conducting a yearly local 8th Grade Drug Survey and several State Drug Surveys to gather information about Skaneateles students was another service.

Having served in this capacity for 21 years in Skaneateles, I am deeply concerned about how the services cut in half will affect the needs of Middle School children.

During these difficult economic times, many painful cuts have had to be made in education and elsewhere. The County and City schools employing the 42 ADA-PEP counselors have chosen to support and keep all the positions. Skaneateles chose to change the role to part-time in the M.S., part-time in the H.S. Given the lengthy history of children receiving educational and counseling support at the Middle School, along with the uniquely challenging and difficult changes and issues of Middle School children, I am deeply concerned about how those needs will be met with a part-time counselor.

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