Drug education getting tougher in Nassau County after budget cuts

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Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council for Alcohol and Drug Dependency, said, “I think schools are faced with different dilemmas. They are told to focus on Common Core and standardized testing. In the scheme of things, substance-abuse programs are considered discretionary. Many school districts have not come to terms with the size and scope of the issue.”

School districts are doing what they can with the funding they have, officials say. Naomi Bisk, a social worker at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, said a number of schools have drug-education programs like Students Against Destructive Decisions, an after-school club that addresses issues such as drunken driving and substance abuse. “Schools are working towards the issue,” Bisk said. “I am a part of a network of social workers in Nassau County that are working towards drug-abuse prevention. At least a majority of school districts do have programs. There has been programming, and they have been working with high-risk students and community members.”

John DeTommaso, superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central School District, echoed Bisk. “We have numerous ongoing programs and are currently concentrating on heroin,” DeTommaso said. “We will be having training for staff members as well as communities for this issue.” Bellmore-Merrick is among the few districts that still have Tempo Group social workers in the schools. Also, the Bellmore-Merrick district, Community Parent Center and Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg will host a program on how to administer Narcan, an opioid antidote, at the Brookside School on March 31 at 7 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

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