The public will have the opportunity to review the proposed new sex education curriculum for Del Norte students.
The Del Norte County Unified School District received a Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grant from the state for $50,000 for three years to purchase new curriculum and hire a health educator.
The purpose of the PREP grant is to provide eighth-grade and high school students with education and skills to prevent teen pregnancy and contracting HIV or STDs by reducing risky behavior, increasing responsible behavior and encouraging family communication.
Last Thursday, the School Board accepted the grant and approved the review of the curriculum: “Reducing the Risk” for eighth-graders and “All4You!” for alternative education students.
The curriculum will be available at the district offices on Washington Boulevard for public review until the next School Board meeting July 12, when the public can make comments. The board would then decide whether to approve the instructional materials.
The school district received the grant because Del Norte has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state: 64.4 births per 1,000 teens. In 2010, 65 babies were born to teen mothers here.
At the board meeting, Superintendent Don Olson pointed out that most of those births were to mothers 18-19 years old (who are still considered teenagers). He acknowledged that while those mothers are legal adults, at that age they “still aren’t really ready and prepared to be parents.”
Students receive information about sex and its consequences in middle school and then again in ninth grade health class, but there’s no class for older students, Olson said. He said it’s important for students to continue receiving information as they age.
Board members said they wanted to look into a “refresher course” for 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders.
Humboldt County has drastically reduced its teen pregnancy rate, and part of its success came from health educators delivering the instruction, Olson said.
The board also decided Thursday to contract with Beth Chaton, who was instrumental in Humboldt’s efforts to reduce its teen pregnancy rate, to work part-time delivering instruction under the PREP grant.