HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — This school year, Hays Consolidated Independent School District rolled out an intense plan to tackle the fentanyl crisis after four students died from fentanyl since the summer. Over the winter holiday, a 14-year-old student died of a suspected fentanyl overdose.
Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said the district is working hard reaching out to students and educating them on the deadly consequences of fentanyl.
“I think we’re doing a really good job for those kids that, that haven’t tried [fentanyl] and that aren’t already in that cycle,” Wright said.
“But for the ones that are, we’ve kind of found that even prior to the campaign, we had some kids that were experimenting, and may be addicted and, and our campaign doesn’t really assist that type of student compared to the other,” he continued. “I just think we have a long ways way to go as far as that’s concerned.”
Wright will be asking lawmakers during the 2023 legislative session to look into funding treatment centers to help students struggling with addiction.
“We have some parents telling us that they’ve reached out to the substance abuse counselors and to the facilities and it is a two-month wait,” Wright said. “And so if they can’t get in to get help, a lot of times students aren’t mature enough or they don’t have the coping mechanisms to say, ‘you know, I can’t take this even though I want to, I don’t know what to do.’”
Wright became the head of Hays CISD in 2018 and has been active at the State Capitol since. In addition to calls for fentanyl funding for students, he said he will also ask legislators to use some of the state’s budget surplus on education.
“One of our top priorities is funding based on enrollment rather than attendance. Our expenditures are the same, regardless if kids come or not,” Wright said. “And I understand the importance of making sure that we follow up with kids that are out, they need to be in school, but we also need the funding because we still have to pay our staff members.”
Hays CISD has 26 campuses serving over 20,000 students. Three high schools, six middle schools serving grades sixth through eighth, 15 elementary schools and an alternative high school make up the district.