Safety of students discussed

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

School security was briefly mentioned during Tuesday's Board of Education meeting in light of the recent Kentucky and Florida school shootings.

School board member and Shelbyville police detective Brian Crews asked the Central Office for a report on security issues during a board retreat next month.

"Can we ask principals to provide us with a list of possible deficiencies in their safety plans so we can discuss it," Crews asked.

Crews also said a safety committee of law enforcement and first responders participate in active shooter simulations at schools. He asked about having a report of their observation of deficiencies for the retreat.

Danger in portables

Superintendent Don Embry said he knew from where the most deficiencies would be listed: portable buildings.

"You're going to have an unsafe campus" whenever there are portable buildings, Embry said.

Throughout the system there are about 30 classrooms in portable buildings, the superintendent said. He expects next fiscal year's budget to include funds for two more such buildings, he said.

"We need another school," Embry said. "We need to get these kids out of portables."

Crews also suggested feedback on whether any schools have surveillance cameras out of service.

SRO concern

Board member David Brown, who represents the Cascade area, asked about SRO coverage for the future high school (the combined middle and high school has one resource officer at this time). Embry said that request for a new officer would have to be made in the Sheriff's Office budget. The question is which budget year should the request be made. That depends on when the school will open, whether that is January 2019 or fall 2019.

"We don't know," he said.

Embry said the new Cascade High School will have windows located higher off the ground than at Community High as well as a darker tint to windows as security features (high windows it is harder to look inside). The school system about five years ago spent "several hundred thousand" dollars to replace a lot of glass at schools with safety glass, he said.

Safety reviews

Embry said that in light of the Florida shooting he has asked principals to review their safety protocols and daily routines. As a coincidence, Community High School had just gone through an active shooter drill the Friday before the Florida shooting.

On another topic, Embry gave an update on the flu's impact on the school system. Only one school -- Community Elementary -- has been hit hard. They had a 20 percent absentee rate last Friday. The long weekend helped the system battle illnesses. Community Elementary was down to 13 percent absent after the holiday. Tuesday's absentee rate systemwide was 6.5 percent, which Embry said is almost normal.