October 16, 2014

New Town High School sees growth and challenges


By Jerry W. Kram

Right now New Town High School has exactly 200 students, a jump of 15 from last year. Principal John Gartner said the influx of new students, many coming from all over the United States has brought new challenges to teachers and the administration, but those challenges are being handled.

After a quiet start to the year in August, Gartner said discipline problems increased dramatically in September. There were 92 referrals for the month and more than a third of them were for truancy. Gartner said many of these students transferred in from other schools.

"Students are having problems following the basic rules," he told the New Town School Board. "This reflects the population that has transferred in. At their old schools they had major problems. Some have chemical addictions and emotional problems that weren’t dealt with in other school. Now we are trying to do what we can to get them stabilized."

Gartner said he is working with the Three Affiliated Tribes Juvenile Justice system to help these students. A number of students were supposed to be getting drug tested monthly by the system, but of personnel changes and other issues, the tests weren’t done for eight months and many of those students returned to abusing substances. The testing has now resumed.

"We had tests just last week and many of the kids failed," Gartner said. "That means they went to jail for violating probation. A strong partnership with the Juvenile Court and our School Resource Officer and our use of a drug dog is a strong deterrant keeping kids from using. If any one of the three is not doing their job, drugs will creep back into our school. We are fighting a battle we were using. Now we have a chance again."

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