May 2, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 2

Board hears pros and cons of GMO foods

Last week, students in the Future Farmers of America class at Medical Lake High School showcased their presentation about genetically modified organism foods to the Medical Lake School District board of directors at its monthly meeting.

The presentation at the Tuesday, April 23 meeting, which earned the team the right to attend the state competition, gave both sides of the GMO argument about whether Washington state should label foods that have been modified. The group of seven acted out different roles, including politicians, concerned parents, environmentalists and scientists.

In their presentation, the group noted that approximately 215 million acres of genetically modified food is produced in the U.S. Of the soybeans grown domestically, about 90 percent are genetically modified.

The group mentioned that Washington voters will have the opportunity to speak out on the issue in an upcoming election with Initiative 522, which would label genetically modified foods. A similar proposition failed in California in 2007.

During the legislative portion of the meeting, the school board approved an increase in lunch prices in the district. The price will increase by 10 cents from this year. Superintendent Dr. Pam Veltri said the increase is to keep up with FDA free and reduced lunch prices, which the district is currently below.

“We have to keep increasing until we match what we get there,” finance director Don Johnson said.

The school board continued to update drug policies to emphasize that although marijuana is legal for use in Washington, it is still listed as a controlled substance on school property.

“Isn’t it sad that we have to change that to include that,” school board member Julie Albright asked, considering that it has always been a controlled substance on school property..

Another policy passed directs schools list out all infectious diseases and report any that take place in the building to a local health department. Report times are now reduced from seven to three days, including some that may require a monthly case report.

“It’s pretty lengthy,” Veltri said. “But we only have to report if we know about it.”

The board also passed a renewal of its contract with Martin Hall, which allows ESD 101 to run education programming at the facility.

A final action by the board surplused a number of items from the high school athletics department. Older uniforms and equipment were included in the list, which was added just before the meeting began.

Most of the equipment is used beyond possible sale to another district, and are at least 10 years in age.

Among the events coming up in the district includes an art show Tuesday, May 14 in the Medical Lake High School lobby. Items that will be showcased in the event include projects from students in digital design and visual communications design classes.

The next school board meeting will be held at Hallett Elementary Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.

James Eik can be reached at

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