District 181 Superintendent Dr. Renée Schuster says she's confident that students in the district's Clarendon Hills schools won't lose out on drug-awareness and decision-making education if the Village Board decides to drop the DARE program at its Aug. 6 meeting.
"I am confident that if the Village Board approves a change, together we can develop a local program that will be a win-win for all, especially our students," Schuster said in an emailed statement on Friday.
In a release sent out Thursday, the announced that it is re-examining the DARE program in its District 181 schools in an effort to reduce costs and reduce redundancy with the district's Social Emotional Learning for Academic Success Program (SELAS).
"A proposal will be presented to the Village Board that includes replacement of the DARE program by an updated SELAS program," the release reads. "A Clarendon Hills police officer will still teach certain portions of the SELAS curriculum, but will be present less than currently is the case."
Currently, according to the village, the DARE program utilizes a full-time Clarendon Hills police officer, paid by the village.
"While the DARE program provides a benefit to students in the community who attend District 181 schools, it does so at a significant cost," village manager Randy Recklaus said in the release. "We will be presenting an alternative to the current program that we feel meets the goals of the current program, but better reflects our current staffing and financial limitations."
An officer from the department would continue to act as a liaison to the district in addition to his or her normal duties.
Schuster said District 181 has discussed steps it would take if DARE is indeed discontinued in Clarendon Hills and that any new program would have the same objectives.
Those objectives include "equipping children with the tools to say no to drugs and alcohol, teaching children the value and importance of good decision making, and sharing the most effective ways to prevent and respond to bullying.
"With any new offering, we would maintain the aspects that were such positive experiences for our students and their families, including an end-of-year celebration and the strong relationships with our police officers," Schuster said, noting that a new program may be able to give teachers more instructional time. "We look forward to hearing the result of their discussion and will continue to be partners for the benefit of our students."
District 181 schools in Clarendon Hills include , and .