The number of drug busts in Colorado schools is on the rise, up more than 30 percent, according to numbers from the Colorado Department of Education.
Since the 2007-2008 school year, Districts 11, 20, 60, and 70 all have seen increases, some of them significant.
Colorado Springs School District 11 has had a steady rise and shown the highest percentage of increase in reported drug incidents. During the '07-'08 school year 25 incidents were reported. In '09-'10 the number of reported incidents skyrocketed up to 67. That is a 168 percent increase.
During the same period, District 20 has seen a similar trend. In the '07-'08 school year there were 38 incidents, in '09-'10 there were 88 for an increase of nearly 132 percent.
In Pueblo County, District 70 has also seen an increase in reports, but not the same stead rise as D-11. In the '07-'08 school year there were 60 reports of drug-related incidents. In '08-'09 there were 76. In '09-'10, however, they reduced the number of incidents by one to 75. They are the only one of these four school districts to have shown a decrease, albeit small, from the '08-'09 school year to '09-'10.
Meanwhile, in the city of Pueblo, District 60 has shown the biggest overall percentage of decrease in drug related incidents since the '07-'08 school year, despite a rise in reports from '08-'09. During the '07-'08 school year, 244 drug-related incidents were reported. This fell dramatically to 151 total incidents the next year. But D-60 did see a rise in reports once more from 151 in '08-'09 to 179 in '09-'10.
These numbers can be looked at a number of ways, and they provide pros and cons to the drug situation in our schools. On one hand, a high increase in drug-related incidents being reported has been attributed by several school districts to be the result of an increase in kids telling on other kids, and in some cases a harder stance against drugs by the schools themselves, which is a good thing.
However, the bad news is that it's possible that simply more kids are experimenting with drugs than have the past. We may never know which is more accurate, simply because to many variables exist, including but not limited to: the level of awareness by staff and funding for them to ferret out these drugs in our schools.
District 60 takes a different approach to their overall decrease in number of incidents. They say it's because of the work they are doing with their students after they are caught with drugs. Through grants, families of offenders can have their students tested for drugs, and put them through a drug awareness course that lasts several weeks.
District 70 takes a different approach; expulsion. So far this school year (as of November 10, 2010) D-70 has expelled 24 kids, 20 for drugs. To the same day last school year (November 10, 2009) they had expelled just 13 for drugs.
We may not ever be able to pinpoint why there has been such a large increase in our schools, but some people have an theory. According to District 60, a large part of the increase they saw from '08-'09 to '09-'10 was offenders in elementary and middle school. After interviewing the children, they found the kids were getting marijuana from family members with medical marijuana cards, and taking it to school.