The Union School District may consider implementing random drug screenings for students.

District administrators said the program is designed to help students make good choices.

The neighboring St. Clair R-13 district already has a similar policy in place for random drug and alcohol testing for those involved in band, baseball, football, track, basketball, golf, wrestling, cheerleading, soccer, softball, cross country, volleyball, the school’s dance team, and numerous clubs including FCCLA, Key Club, Student Council and Model UN.

In St. Clair, any student who has a high school parking permit also is subject to the random drug testing.

Chris Arand, UHS assistant principal and high school athletic director, said similar stipulations would likely be included in a policy for the Union district.

Arand said he has been researching drug testing in other Missouri school districts, including St. Clair.

He estimated it would cost the district about $5,000 per school year to implement a voluntary random drug testing program, based on the number of students tested each month.

Superintendent Steve Bryant said the drug testing program would be voluntary, but those choosing to opt out of testing would not be allowed to participate in the extracurricular activities or have a parking pass.

Those activities are privileges, not rights, Arand said.

“It gives students a chance to say ‘I’m involved in an activity, I don’t want to do that,’ ” he said.

“This isn’t a punitive thing,” Bryant said. “We look at it as a way to deter kids who may be at risk.”

The policy will be separate from the district’s current disciplinary policy regarding drug and alcohol abuse.

The district suspended 17 middle and high school students for a combined 1,117 days during the 2011-12 school year for drug and alcohol abuse related offenses.

Bryant said adding random testing would provide another reason for students to say no to drugs and alcohol.

“If we help one kid, it’ll be very well worth the effort,” he said.

Bryant noted that the program, if eventually approved, will maintain confidentiality by limiting the number of district personnel involved in testing and informing parents and students of any positive test results.

Testing in St. Clair involves collecting urine samples from randomly selected students. Those samples undergo a multipanel screening test which includes steroids and opiates.

School board members authorized Arand to come up with a draft policy Monday night, but no policy has been adopted by the district.

“We’re going to pick and choose from several different districts’ policies,” Bryant told The Missourian Tuesday. “We want the public to be aware that we’re considering the policy and we’ll be getting input from students and parents. That input will be important to the whole process.”

In St. Clair, students who test positive are suspended from taking part in and attending extra- and co-curricular and athletic activities for at least three weeks for a first offense and a year for a second offense.