It is the last DARE graduation in Angelina County. Not just the last for this year, but the last period. The DARE program is being dropped here, but why?
Last year, Sheriff Kent Henson said he would fight for DARE, despite the loss of federal grant money that used to pay for the program.
In an interview in August of 2004, Sheriff Henson said, "I do not intend on letting the DARE program drop because it is very beneficial. It affects 700 5th grade students in Angelina County."
It all has to do with dollars and cents. The county has a certain budget that they have to deal with. So much goes to departments, special projects, worker's salleries, and schools. After going over the budget it was either cut jobs, or cut DARE.
It's a tough decision to make. It's also a choice not everyone agrees with.
Pastor Elton Musick said, "the county's been paying for it for the last 5 years only because the grant run out and nobody seemed importatant enough in our elected officials to apply for the grants."
Pastor Musick has been watching kids go through the DARE program for years. He's seen DARE help drug addicts at his church. He believes all it would have taken to keep the DARE program going in Angelina County, is somebody filing for a grant.
Pastor Musick said, "I think it was just gross negligance on the whole thing."
Running the DARE program costs the county around $63,000 a year. If new grant money comes through, the program might start back up. But for now, DARE graduations are over in Angelina County.
School district leaders we spoke with about DARE tell us they believe the program is effective, but they know there's no way to keep it going without county support.
Educators say without knowing what the State Legislature is going to do for next year's budget, it's impossible to start any new programs. Especially when schools are working hard to ballance what they already have.
Mary Whiteker, the Superintendent at Hudson ISD said, "most districts are in the process right now of creating a very conservitive budget for the next school year because of the uncertanty."