NEW PARIS — A school safety meeting was held on Wednesday, April 18, for the National Trail Local School District. This gave administrators an opportunity to review what safety measures are already in place at the school, while also asking for the community’s input on having an armed response of some sort.
After conducting a teacher survey and a community survey, the school found most of the school community would feel comfortable with a School Resource Officer (SRO).
According to Superintendent Jeff Parker, this information will help further educate the NT Board of Education members as they make decisions in the future.
“The purpose of the meeting is to inform and update the community. Obviously, we all know what has been going on and it has been going on longer than the last few months. We all understand that. We wish to seek input from the community,” Parker said.
“The table is open. We haven’t ruled anything out. That doesn’t mean we aren’t having careful discussions and being very considerate of what we are talking about, but right now, I’m not going to look at anybody and say there is anything off the table.”
To highlight building security, the district has increased the number of cameras they employ (from roughly 80 to 134) in the last seven years. Those cameras have also been updated and the quality is better now, according to school officials. The district continues to add cameras as the need arises. There is remote access from administrative offices and phones.
There are monitoring devices on all 24 entrances and exits. There is one entrance point during school hours which is monitored by staff, but the district continues to discuss ways to secure that entrance.
Currently, the school utilizes steel stop-sticks to barricade the doors if need be, but are looking to upgrade with an item called The Boot. This device is described as a rectangular-shaped plate of 1/4 inch thick cold-rolled industrial steel. Each of its two steel pegs offer 8,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of tensile strength — totaling 16,000 psi when both pegs are fully engaged. The Boot weighs five pounds, offering tremendous strength to prevent entry from danger on the other side of a door.
National Trail Local School District will be utilizing this device for the upcoming school year.
The district also has several tip hotlines and does work with students to address bullying and any issues as they may arise. Trainings occur regularly to keep staff and students informed on how to react in an emergency.
The Preble County Success Program continues to work with all of the Preble County schools to held address student needs, connecting families to services in the area.
The board has been discussing implementing an SRO through the Preble County Sheriff’s Department. Due to deadlines, Sheriff Mike Simpson has already begun the grant process. The district is confident they will be awarded a grant, but is not yet sure how much it will allot to.
According to Parker, the grant will be roughly $12,000, if not more. He added, the total cost of the program will be between $59,000 and $70,000, without the grant money.
The school will pay for the 12-month position. It is Parker’s hope the officer will take vacation during the summer, but when they are not on vacation during the summer, they will patrol the National Trail School District (including West Manchester, Eldorado, New Paris, etc.)
The SRO would have a certain amount of time they have to be interacting with students in the classroom during the school year.
The district has also discussed a Staff Armed Response. Parker stated, they have been deliberate about not calling it “Teacher Armed Response,” because there are more people in the school than just teachers. He added, that does not mean staff will carry weapons on them, but can have them locked up in safes and be able to access those safes during an emergency.
Prior to the meeting, Parker sent out a staff survey to see what they would like to see in regards to armed response. The results were: 51.6 percent for SRO, 24.7 percent for SRO and Staff Armed Response, 16.2 percent for no armed response, and 7.5 percent for Staff Armed Response.
Parker then asked those attending the meeting to answer the same questions on an online poll. After compiling the two results, it shows the National Trail School community is 76.3 percent in favor of SRO, 32.2 percent in favor of a Staff Armed Response, and 16.1 percent in favor of no armed response.
This information will help the NT Board of Education make a decision on additional school safety measures to implement within National Trail School District.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH