Monday, January 14, 2013
School security, upcoming legislative issues, and the oversight committee that will be formed to help monitor the monies generated by the bond referendum were items of discussion during Monday’s Dorchester School District 2 Board of Trustees workshop session.
The workshop began with a discussion on school security. Superintendent Joe Pye told the board that in light of recent events such as the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Pye asked several key district personnel to inspect all the schools throughout the district for potential safety/security issues and to make a list of needs to address those potential issues.
“We have compiled a list of things to add, key fob systems, entrance/egress corrections, etc.” Pye said. “Each school needs to be looked at, but none are in bad shape – these are things that can be done and should be done anyway.”
For example, schools have many doors throughout the facilities that should remain permanently locked from the outside – they were meant to be emergency exits, not entrances, he said. All visitors should be entering the buildings through their main entrances and checked in and out through the school offices. Fences are for the most part secure, but they were built to keep children safely on campus; they were not designed to keep intruders out, he said.
“Overall, though, we’re in good shape – the schools are very secure,” Pye said. “I felt good – there were just a few things we found.”
He said the district has and continues to seek input from the community, and added that he has received no complaints regarding security.
The board also had a chance to discuss upcoming legislative issues with two members of the local legislative delegation, Rep. Jenny Horne and Sen. Sean Bennett. Board members asked the legislators about the possibility of state funding for more school resource officers.
“We have been told by the sheriff – and we understand completely – that there just isn’t any money available for that,” Board member Gail Hughes said.
Nonetheless, she and other board members noted that the North Charleston Police Department is providing officers for Charleston County School District.
The board and the district is also opposed to a recently introduced bill that would allow school employees to carry concealed weapons on school grounds, they noted.
Horne agreed that Dorchester County has much more limited sources but said she would be willing to help the board with efforts in that area.
Horne also updated the board briefly about the upcoming session and her work with several other legislators on comprehensive school funding reform. Because it is so complicated and convoluted, her committee did not pre-file any bills but does hope to have a proposal ready to put before the legislature this term, she said.
DD2 Chief Financial Officer Allyson Duke then briefly addressed board members and legislators, noting that the legislators can help the district by working toward equitable school funding and school safety funding, studying financial impact of new legislation before agreeing to support it to help avoid additional unfunded mandates, and communicate with board members and administrators regarding impact of any new legislation to the district.
By the same token, the district can help the legislative delegation by staying informed and contacting legislators about potential impact of proposed legislation.
The board also looked at the latest proposal regarding the makeup and duties of the oversight committee to be appointed to monitor money generated by the recent $179 bond referendum.
The most recent proposal regarding the committee calls for the committee to be made up of seven volunteer members nominated by the board. The committee will be independent of the district, the board of trustees, and the contractors involve in the projects. The committee members will include an architect, contractor, engineer, accountant, and community leader among its membership; it will also have at least one minority member. The committee will meet publicly every month and make monthly reports to the Board. If the committee has questions or concerns about the way money is being spent, then it will bring that concern before the board.