District One officials, parents look at school safety issues

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Updated Version
By David Meade

During their meeting Thursday, Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard from a parent who expressed concerns about school security. Jennifer Opper, who has a child in a District One Elementary School, said that for many tragic reasons and concerns about shootings, asked the board for direction in providing more security in the school system.

Opper said she has talked with several elected officials including Rep. Brian White and members of County Council. She said that she is realistic that security costs money and asked the board to help her with direction.

She said she has received several recommendations including looking at lottery money, having the district consider reallocating monies and even having parents provide money for a security person or possibly just purchasing a police car to park in front of a school.

“There is a lot of support, she said, “a lot of want from the parents.”

Opper said that at a recent PTO meeting the parents did indicate that they feel safe and have a great school, but also felt that having someone provide security at the school would be a deterrent.

Board Chairman Fred Alexander said, “We’re all concerned,” and that board members and school adminstration have been looking at what can be done to increase security.

“We don’t have the money as a school district,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent David Havird said the State Superintendent of Education was recently talking about the issue.

Havird and Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler explained the District currrently has four resource officers who split time between the two high schools and the middle schools in the District.

Dr. Fowler said the District would need 10 additional resource officers to cover the district’s 14 schools and that each resource officer costs about $50,000.

Board member Nancy Upton urged Opper to continue to contact the legislators. “If parents get behind this, they will listen to you.”

Board member David Merritt said, “We’re evaluating. This is the first meeting we’ve had since this happened. We’re evaluating to see what we can do as a district.”

Havird said some additional security measures were taken over the holidays including access doors, wiring for new cameras, door locks, key pads and panic buttons installed directly to 911.

A memo was also sent to principals, school personnel and parents explaining and reassuring that the District is looking at school safety and security to protect and support students.Dr. Fowler has also spoken with the Sheriff’s Department and the County Board of Education about the issue.

The board unanimously approved a new school calendar for 2013-14.

Director of Secondary Education Robbie Binnicker said that the district is requesting a waiver with the State Department of Education for middle schoolers who pass a typing test to advance to Computer Tech 1. Binnicker said under the proposal, if a student places out of keyboarding they will be allowed to skip the class in high school and will receive 1/2 unit keyboarding credit which can apply toward graduation requirements. The board gave consensus to proceed with the request.

Havird reported the nutrition program had November revenues of $341,826 and expenses of $278,072 for a profit of $63,753. He said program is showing a loss of $1,447 year to date, which should improve tremendously. He also said the staff has been working on a state department certification which will allow the program an additional 6 cents per meal which will reimburse to October. He said the program had also worked out the bread problem and found a supplier.

According to Havird, Federal nutrition guidelines have also been relaxed resulting in students getting more protein and carbs, which was a problem earlier in the school year.

The Board went into executive session to discuss a contract and personnel issues.

The Board of Trustees approved the following personnel recommendations:

Leave – Melissa Crenshaw, Wren Middle; Donna Yarborough, Palmetto elementary, 4K; Ann-Marie Yonai, Palmetto High, Consumer Science.

Resignation – Meagan Long, Palmetto Middle, Music.

No other official action was expected upon return to open session. The Board is in the process of interviewing for the position of superintendent which will come open in the 2013-14 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler announced recently that he will retire at the end of the current school year.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Opper’s name was misspelled in the print edition of this story. We appologize for the error.