SPECIAL BOARD REPORT: District safety & security
In the wake of recent fatal shootings at Marshall County High School in Benton and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, District Law Enforcement Director Larry Zacheretti briefed board members on the district’s security policies and procedures. Some highlights:
School Resource Officers (SRO’s)
• MCPS employs eight SRO’s, including four at the high school and one at each of the district’s attendance zones.
• This makes MCPS #1 in the state for its ratio of students to SRO’s
• All are sworn, armed, Police Academy-trained officers.
• Seven of the eight are retired officers with 20-plus years of experience.
• As required by the Department of Criminal Justice, all have at least 40 hours of continued training each year.
School Entrances and Exits — Locks & Surveillance Cameras
• The entrances/exits at all MCPS schools are on timed lock systems.
• All schools have a buzzer system controlled by each school’s front office.
• The high school in particular has a top-of-the-line access control system that unlocks the front entrance only from 7:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. on school days to allow for students to enter the school.
• The district has close to 300 video surveillance cameras throughout the schools, with 130 at MCHS alone.
• Students were reminded at an assembly at the high school earlier Thursday not to open or prop open exterior doors for anyone, even other students. All visitors must be buzzed in through the front entrance by staff.
Emergency Procedures Manual
• Available in hard copy at each school, as well as online
• Covers everything from weather events to active shooter and hostage situations
• Once a year, every school has a tabletop active shooter training.
• Currently backpack checks are done at periodically, at random, but the district is considering increasing the frequency of checks.
Comments from Zacheretti:
“Personally, I think one of the best ways to deal with these active shooter situations that we’ve seen here lately are relationships; for our resource officers, faculty and staff to give kids a sense of belonging. That’s huge. It really is. You can listen to the talking heads in the media, but they’re all saying the same thing. You can talk about gun control, mental illness and metal detectors all day long, but I really think that the most effective way to address this is to build relationships in the schools.”
“Our relationship with local law enforcement, it couldn’t be any better. We’ve got a great working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department, the Paducah Police Department. I can’t tell you a time that we’ve had a request that they haven’t been there for us to assist with manpower, equipment, information sharing. It’s constant. We talk at least weekly if not several times a week, sometimes after hours, sharing information. If we get a tip that may have occurred on social media during the night, we can’t wait for it. We deal with every threat, every piece of information that we get, we treat every one of them seriously. We take them all seriously.”
Comments from Superintendent Brian Harper:
“I’m a parent also in this district, and what makes me feel safe is the relationship we have with our sheriff’s department, and the city police. We just have a great working relationship, and I think that is the key to the safety, not only of our school system, but of our community as a whole. We give them information, they give us information to protect all members of this community. And I appreciate it.”
INSTRUCTION REPORT: Grants supporting innovation in our schools
It’s no secret — budgets are tight in public education, but grants are helping the district fulfill its mission to innovate and offer endless opportunities to its students. Grants give schools a chance to try something new, while also giving them the resources they need to do so, MCPS Grant Writer Genevieve Postlethwait told board members. Examples include:
• A $50,000 Energy Career Pathway Grant from KDE that funded the addition of a Project Lead the Way Environmental Sustainability class at MCHS
• A $40,000 Early Childhood Healthy Living Grant from the KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services that funded greenhouses and healthy living curricula at district preschools
• Nearly $5 million 21st Century Community Learning Center grants over the past eight years, funding before and afterschool tutoring and enrichment programs
• A $150,000 Preschool Partnership Grant from KDE that’s funded professional development for public preschool teachers and private childcare workers throughout McCracken County
• A $30,000 grant from the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation for the districtwide (5th through 12th grade) orchestra program, to fund quality scholarship instruments to loan to students who cannot afford an instrument of their own.
Board members approve continued funding of district’s National Board Certified Teacher Incentive Program
Following the success of the district’s National Board Certified Teacher Incentive Program in its first and second years, board members agreed Thursday night to continue funding the program for a third year. The initial mentoring program in 2016-17 provided the funds to pay for one NBCT component for up to five NBCT candidates selected through an application process. For 2017-18, the board increased funding for the program to cover up to 10 candidates. Thursday night board members voted to continue funding the program at its 2017-18 levels, with funding provided through district professional development funds.
Board recognizes Lone Oak Middle School’s National Science Bowl Regional Champions
By winning the regional National Science Bowl (NSB) competition, LOMS earned a spot to compete in the NSB Finals this spring in Washington, D.C. The NSB brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete in a fast-paced, question-and-answer format where they solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth and space science, physic and math.