School security: School Board discusses building security ideasThe Jamestown Public School Board discussed measures to increase school safety, but did not approve any immediate changes at Monday’s meeting. “We’re not looking for any motion tonight. This isn’t decision making, but we really need to have a discussion on how far do we want to go in our district for changes in the schools — especially at the elementary level,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public School Board discussed measures to increase school safety, but did not approve any immediate changes at Monday’s meeting.
“We’re not looking for any motion tonight. This isn’t decision making, but we really need to have a discussion on how far do we want to go in our district for changes in the schools — especially at the elementary level,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso.
Toso discussed proposed changes with The Sun previously, but this was the first time the School Board had the opportunity to voice concerns and questions.
He has been working with staff at the schools to propose some changes following the Sandy Hook shootings last December when 20 students and six staff members were fatally shot in a Newtown, Conn., school.
“I appreciate the fact there is a plan, as far as the elementary schools,” said Greg Allen, School Board member. “There will probably be different levels of security we can put in it different schools, but I don’t want to wait for an incident to make that decision.”
Toso agreed and said the board has difficult choices to make regarding community access to the schools.
“Don’t lull yourself into thinking this could never happen here,” Toso said. “I’m laying a pretty heavy responsibility on you guys, but Greg hit the nail on the head.”
Changes the superintendent called “easy” were the installation of cameras at entrances, requiring visitors to be buzzed in and panic buttons with a direct link to law enforcement.
He estimated the total cost for cameras and panic buttons at roughly $100,000 for the five elementary schools.
“What people would do if they want to have access to the school, they ring a buzzer, there would be a camera and someone could look and see if this is a safe person to allow in,” Toso said. Parents would call in advance if they were going to the school for any reason during the school day.
School Board member Roger Haut called locked doors during the school day a “logistical nightmare.”
“The locked doors are going to be more of a hassle than a preventative type thing,” Haut said.
Toso said cameras and locked doors at the high school would be more difficult because of the number of students that enter and leave the building over the course of any given day.
Diane Hanson, School Board member, wanted information from other schools that use the lock and camera system. She said St. John’s Academy currently has one in place.
“I just don’t feel prepared to move forward with this without more information,” Hanson said.
Shelly Jystad, another board member, wanted to get information from school counselors on what programs are available for mental health, security companies on any changes they would propose and legislators on any funds that could become available.
Toso said the board will have to take a good look before deciding what to do.
“At some point this spring we’ll keep talking about it, we’ll have Mike (Armitage, technology department audio/visual director) here at some point,” Toso said. “When you’re ready we’ll have a motion and I don’t think it will hurt to talk to community people and see what they think.”
Later in the meeting the School Board learned that a five-person team with AdvancED will visit with each school next month as part of an on-going accreditation process.
AdvancED has guidelines that must be met for the district to maintain accreditation with the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement in order to receive funding.
Gail Wold, Jamestown Middle School principal and District School Improvement Committee member, went over the results gathered by staff members in each school Monday.
The grading system was based on a 1-4 scale, with fours being virtually unattainable. AdvancED does not round up, so a score of 2.7 would be considered a 2. Threes are considered good, twos are average and ones require improvement.
Overall there were 35 indicators in five standards across the district. The five standards are purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching an assessing for learning, resources and support systems and using results for continuous improvement.
When asked by Terry Anderson, board member, Wold said she would score the Jamestown Public School District as a whole with the results at a C or C minus.
The five-person will review results with the School Board at 4 p.m., March 13 in the Thompson Community Room.
In other news:
r The School Board unanimously approved a notice of recognition from the Jamestown Administrators. As required by law, the School Board will enter contract negotiations with administrators, just like it does every two years with the Jamestown Education Association.
r The School Board unanimously approved to increase funding to a total of $20,000 next year for Arts Center programs in the schools.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org