During the Board of Education’s June 2022 meeting, Superintendent Tracey Miller addressed building safety.
It seems a lot has happened since our last meeting, and it’s only been three weeks, he noted, recognizing the tragic mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and changes to gun laws in Ohio.
In a recent letter to the parent community, Mr. Miller emphasized that the top priority for the Board and the district is the safety and security of students, staff, and guests.
“Our community appreciates that. We are getting the results of our recent surveys. In the surveys, we asked respondents to identify the three things we do well. Every stakeholder group put safety and security in the top three,” he said. “That affirms to me that they recognize all that we are doing, but we're not going to rest on our laurels.”
The district’s Safety Committee (composed of local first responders, building principals, Board representatives, and others) regularly meets to assess security measures and identify ways to improve them. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for early August, ahead of the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
As I’ve often said, if someone is intent on doing harm, they will do harm, Mr. Miller said. We need to do all that we can to slow them down until first responders arrive. To this end, the district is actively exploring two-step entrances for each school’s main entryway.
A two-step entrance was installed this past spring at the high school as part of the renovation project for the expanded counselors suite. With the second set of doors, individuals entering the building during regular school hours are blocked from accessing the school’s main hallway and instead are funneled into the main office first.
The district is exploring how to get two-step entries at Locust Corner, Monroe and the middle school.
“We have an estimate already for Locust Corner of $20,000,” Mr. Miller said. “We are pursuing estimates for Monroe and the middle school.” Because of the location of the office from the main entrance, Monroe will pose a bit of a challenge.
The total cost for double entrances at all district schools is roughly estimated at $100,000. It’s hoped the newly announced state safety funding for schools will help to cover all or some of the cost. The district can also use funds from the permanent improvement account.
“Also, our great community, when they passed the levy a couple of years ago, they approved .5 mills for use in academics, technology, and safety and security. We could also pull money from there,” Mr. Miller said.
Additionally, the district is pursuing formalizing its school resource officer relationship with Pierce Township Police. The department does a significant amount of volunteer work at Locust Corner but there’s no set number of hours per week, Mr. Miller said.
“We would like to firm that up and enter a contract with them similar to what we have at Monroe. It will cost money. We spend about $10,000 a year for a contract with the county Sheriff’s department for Monroe,” he said.