Vaping has become a national concern and Nutley is not immune to this problem. E-cigarettes have become a substitute for tobacco cigarettes with an addictive likeness to substance-abuse disorders as early as middle school age. As with all addictive habits, education is one of the key ways to minimize and hopefully eliminate the problem.

It is my opinion that it is the Board’s responsibility to provide a safe school environment and to help our students reach their potential. To this end, the Board has developed and implemented a proactive substance abuse policy to include clear procedures and a comprehensive student assistance program (SAP). The policy and SAP focus on rewarding positive behaviors and intervening upon the negative effects of alcohol/drug usage and the like. Together with H.O.P.E. for Nutley, an effort by our local police department to inform and assist parents about substance abuse, an effective joint effort between the BOE and the Department of Public Safety is our best hope for control of this national issue.

Did you know that Nutley has a police cadet-training program aimed at grades 5 through 8? It’s an impressive program that features the basics of police training but also includes programming that introduces these cadets to their peers who are recovering from substance-abuse issues. The students are more likely to relate to those in their age group and how their lives have been altered by their poor choices regarding smoking, vaping and drugs.

Although the problem of substance abuse is an issue that touches every community, these programs, which are geared toward educating our students, and their parents, are one important way to help minimize the issue of drug abuse in our community. As a Board member, I’m an advocate of doing whatever we can to not only continue, but also enhance these programs to educate and empower our parents and students to help prevent against substance abuse.