From the Independent: Parents turn out for school security meeting

CANNONSBURG:  Effective communication is one key toward school safety, parents and education officials in the Boyd County district agreed Monday in a community meeting.

Another key is the physical security of school buildings and adequate law enforcement coverage. Additional school resource officers and devices to secure classrooms from intruders will be part of that solution, and Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods provided more details on both.

Principals from all six schools and the district’s two preschool centers outlined current and planned security safeguards.

School officials and security consultant James Stephens talked with parents about the security potential of metal detectors.

Among precautions already in place at all district schools are classroom doors that are closed and locked at all times, restricted access to buildings, surveillance cameras and safety drills, including training for response to armed intruders.

Restrictions include multiple buzz-in procedures and quizzing visitors for identification and purpose of the visit, and channeling students and staff alike through limited access points.

Among recent changes, parents are no longer permitted to walk children to class at elementaries and preschool.

Some schools are looking into covering windows with one-way tinting so classrooms can’t be seen from the outside.

Woods is finalizing details on hiring five resource officers, four of which will be stationed in Boyd schools and one in the Fairview district. Each district already has one officer and both of those are sheriff’s deputies.

He plans to hire five retired police officers, all of whom will be certified or eligible for recertification as officers. He has already hired two of the five.

Woods has enough money in his budget to fund the positions until the end of the school year and over the summer hopes to hammer out an agreement with the district to split the cost for the upcoming year.

The projected cost for each for a full year would be about $36,000, plus benefits and a cruiser, which the sheriff’s department would provide.

Woods also has secured donors who will fund most of the cost of heavy-duty devices to secure doors in the event of a threat and plans to buy 416, enough for every classroom door in the Boyd and Fairview districts.

The sheriff’s department can make up the difference from its drug forfeiture fund, he said.

Parents often are frustrated when district reports of threats lag behind information that spreads on social media, some parents said.

“Sometimes as parents we don’t find out about things until we see it on Facebook, and that’s unacceptable,” said Beth Higgenbotham, who has children in elementary and high school.

The meeting gave parents a venue to voice their opinions and concerns and learn more about what the schools are doing, she said. “Small things add up. I learned a lot of things they are doing,” she said.

“We appreciate the community input and we want to come up with some ideas to improve communication . . . we as a district think we are doing a good job but we need to work on making it better,” he said.

The additional resource officers will make a significant impact on building security, he said. The district is making plans on how to most effectively deploy them among its schools.

(606) 326-2652 |

To see related photos, please access the Daily Independent online.

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