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Billings County School employee assistance program tabled

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news Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

MEDORA -- After a lengthy discussion Wednesday night, the Billings County School Board decided to table a decision on whether to implement a new district employee assistance program.


Details of plans from three companies -- The Village, Midwest and St. Alexius -- were brought to the board with costs varying from $750 up to $4,500 annually. Each plan would offer various short-term services including mental health counseling, legal and financial counseling, addiction evaluation and crises management, among other services, with all offered on a confidential basis.

A limited number of counseling sessions and other assistance would be offered at no cost to the employee.

Board president Darren Baranko voiced a number of concerns with implementing such a program.

"I would be concerned if an employee came to us down the road and wanted more services," Baranko said. "With a plan like one of these, we're offering a taste, but there would be a limit. I'll be flat honest -- if an employee is showing serious issues with drugs or alcohol or what have you, I don't want to pay to get help, I would want the issue resolved."

Board member Lynn Arthaud opined that she would like to see such a program offered for a year and revisit its worth to the district after. The issue will come before the board again next month.

In other decisions, the board voted 4-0 (Baranko was not present for the vote) to move forward with district principal Denise Soehren's recommendation to hire a new part-time certified learning disabilities teacher for the remainder of the school year. The new hire would work two days per week.