NEW FRANKLIN The topic of school security is on the mind of many parents following the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla, in which 17 people were killed.
During the Feb. 20 board meeting, the Board heard from many parents asking about security and what kinds of plans the district has in place.
Resident Michelle White said all the recent shootings are concerning and asked if there is a plan in place if a shooting were to happen in the district.
Superintendent James Robinson said the district works very closely with the New Franklin Police Department. Police officials recently came in and spoke to middle school and high school students about the training done and how to respond in these kinds of situations.
New Franklin Police Officer Justin Tirbovich said the district is informing students how to respond in grades K-12 if an intruder is in the building. Students are encouraged to flee the building if possible, or otherwise barricade the classroom door depending on the situation. The students are not told to sit and be quiet.
Teachers have undergone Active Shooter Response Training and the district practices rapid evacuation drills along with lockdown drills. The district has had three lockdown drills at the elementary school already this year.
Robinson said the district has made safety upgrades as all the doors are locked and any visitor is required to be buzzed into the school. He said there are cameras set up for the staff to see who is trying to buzz into the school. He said each building has a safety plan and a safety committee.
Robinson also said the district had an outside company do an audit of the safety of the buildings. It was determined to upgrade the lighting and locks at Nolley Elementary School.
"We have tried to make it as difficult as possible for someone to do something," Robinson said. "We cannot say enough about the New Franklin Police Department."
Robinson said the district continues to work on safety and feels the pain of parents. He said following the shooting in Florida, the district asked New Franklin Police to be present at all buildings for several days after.
Several parents thanked the district for all they have done, but said these shootings are taking an emotional toll on children.
Robinson said he encourages anyone that sees something that doesn’t seem right to say something. He said the district is working to determine how to handle two national walkout days for students and teachers scheduled for March 14 and April 20.
"We are going to discuss how to handle that," Robinson said.
Robinson also said in talking with other superintendents in the area, the general feeling is not to add metal detectors or allow teachers to carry guns. He said accidents can happen and he said he doesn’t think the local police departments are in favor of that.
Several parents also raised concerns about middle school students that change classes outside and use the trailers. Robinson said making the trailers safer is something the district hopes to address in an upcoming facilities upgrade as a part of the strategic plan.
Board President Richard Sponseller said Robinson has done a superb job keeping children safe.
"I 100 percent trust the confidence that he will keep kids safe," Sponseller said. "We have the best guy."
Board Member Cindy McDonald reminded parents to listen to their children and let them talk and feel important.
"We care about your kids," McDonald said.
In other business Feb. 20, the board:
- Heard from several parents concerned about the district not providing buses for a post-graduation trip to Cedar Point for the senior class. Parents said the trip planned for the day after graduation has already undergone a lot of fundraising and now the district won’t provide buses for the trip. Robinson said there are several factors, including liability and the cost. He said no teachers would be going on the trip and it would be costly to pay for gas and a driver. He said he is fully in favor of providing buses for a more local trip in the area, which senior classes have taken in the past. Parents voiced concern about poor communication regarding the issue and Robinson apologized for that.
- Approved an agreement between the Lake County Educational Service Center Governing Board and the district.
- Approved the 2019-20 school calendar. Robinson said the district is trying to get ahead of the curve, but there could be a few small changes.
- Approved the Manchester High School choir trip to Chicago during Spring Break 2019.
- Approved a donation from Krumroy-Cozad Construction to the eighth grade boys basketball team in the amount of $500. It also accepted a donation from Turkey Island Club to the choir for $100.
- Heard from Robinson about a strategic five-year plan for the district that he is working on. The plan focuses on physical social and emotional safety for all students and staff, curriculum and student growth, staffing leadership and professional development, technology advancement for all students and facility and renovation development. Robinson said he has briefly talked to the board and administration about the plan. He plans to talk to the community about it in the future.
The next Manchester Schools board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. March 20 at the Administration Building, 6075 Manchester Road.