Local schools get grants for officers
SANDY HOWARD PHOTO
Left, Indiana State Trooper Robert Hutson and trooper Travis Linville with Osgood Marshal Eric Roush partipate in the Safe School Active Shooter program presented by the state police at Jac-Cen-Del school recently.
Three local schools were among the recipients of a $9 million state grant to make schools safer. Governor Mike Pence announced the recipients of the Secured School Safety Grant Program at a school in Avon on Nov. 1.
The program is a state grant fund that provides matching funds to school corporations, charter schools or coalitions of school corporations applying to employ a school resource officer (SRO), conduct a threat assessment, and purchase equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite the notification of first responders. School corporations with an average daily membership of 1,000 students could apply for grants up to $50,000 per year, and those with less, up to $35,000 per year.
This is the first time for Jac-Cen-Del to have a SRO. Jac-Cen-Del plans to use the $35,000 matching grant to employ a full-time SRO and for equipment. “We did not have an officer in place and didn’t budget for it,” Dr. Leanna Phillippe, superintendent, said. They allotted $50,000 for salary and benefits, another $20,000 for camera and equipment updates.
She said they will use the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office as an agent and plan to post the position as soon as they outline duties. She sees the SRO covering bullying reports, and building student and community relationships, among other responsiblities. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they will have hired someone and can start on the program at the first of the year. The officer must go through training, which is offered in January. “It’s a very good thing for JCD. The SRO can build relationships with the kids. If we save just one life, it’s worth the time it takes to apply for these grants,” she commented.
JCD was recently the venue for a safety shooter training session with police. She noted it took just four seconds to enter the building and “shoot” the secretary with the front doors unlocked and no time to place a schoolwide alert. With a buzz-in system for visitors, the response was one minute and 23 seconds. “It provides a speed bump, and gives time for the office to call,” Phillippe said.
South Ripley School Corporation had a SRO for two years with Dan Goris, but he left this year for another position. Supt. Rob Moorhead said he has a recommendation to make to the board for a SRO officer. He added that they are thrilled to continue with the resource officer program
“It’s been successful in the past.” He noted they saw a decline in discipline referrals and increase in attendance. The SRO’s role is to be a positive police officer in the building, make connections with students and community groups, work with local EMS departments with emergency services, and serve as a liasion with local police department. Both he and Phillippe mentioned the officer can help with anti-bullying programs and reports.
South Ripley received a $50,000 grant for the officer and equipment. Moorhead said they’ll use the grant for the position and to improve electronic access at the entrance of buildings and camera upgrades on buses.
Batesville Community Schools Corp. received $39,421 for security equipment. They have had a SRO for seven years and partner with Batesville police. Ed Krause, director of transportation and safety, said they will use the funds to buy about 90 digital radios to replace the 11-year-old ones they have
“Our radio communication is critical in an emergency, and we saw the need to replace the analog equipment. This fund allows us to do so all at one time, rather than phases, and saves money in the end.” He said these radios will operate when land and cell lines are down, which is what happened when the tornado came through in Holton in March, 2012.
Milan did not apply for the grant, but plans to in January, according to the superintendent, Paul Ketcham. They have to show that the corporation will not only match the grant, but sustain it as well.
JCD and South Ripley plan to make it a budget line item. Batesville already incorporates it into the annual budget. This comes on the heels of a very violent past 10 days, with airport, school and mall shootings in the U.S. Last year’s Sandy Hook tragedy got the attention of lawmakers, and the need for safer schools was planned. Sometimes tragic events lead to something positive. “Phillippe added, “I know Sandy Hook made me do it quicker.”
Mental illness in students
Past school tragedies in the country have often been from mental health issues of students. Administrators say they see an increase in mental health problems, often seen as young as primary age students. Phillippe commented that JCD provides a teacher to instruct a student at home because otherwise the child’s behavior threatens the school and students. They pay $300 a week to keep the student out, she said.
As Moorhead pointed out, the shootings are in big cities and small towns. “It is scary. There is no true profile or place where this could happen. You hate to think it could happen, but we need to be prepared for the possibility and SRO is one more deterrent.”
Krause said many do not realize but Indiana is one of the first to get on board with school safety programs “Sandy Hook highlighted the need, but Indiana is ahead of other states on school safety. We’ve had a safety academy since 1989, where a staff person had to be trained. “
The grants are not a sure thing annually, so districts will have to budget if they want to continue with SRO. Phillippe said she’ll push for it. “We really don’t have a choice. We have to get it in the budget.”
South Ripley High School starts swim team
For the first time, South Ripley High School will have a swim team for the 2013-2014 school year, with David Baugh serving as high school swim coach on a volunteer basis for a one-year trial basis. This was announced at the Oct. 21 South Ripley Community School Corporation board meeting. The team has about 15 students signed up, 12 girls, and 3 boys.
Unanimous approval was given for a lease agreement with Milan Community School Corporation to use their facilities for the swim team. The $1,000 lease fee will be paid by the South Ripley Corporation. The team practices four to five times a week at the Milan pool. The first meet will be Nov. 21. The school corporation began with a junior high swim program last year and will continue this year as well. Their season begins in January. Supt. Rob Moorhead said afterward that they are excited to offer another opportunity for student athletes with this swim program, and are grateful for the cooperation of Milan Schools in allowing the use of their pool.
In other business, unanimous approval was given to allow the high school cheerleaders, boys varsity and junior varsity players and coaches to stay overnight in the Richmond area for the Union County Holiday Tournament held on December 27-28.
Also, the board passed a resolution to adopt the NEOLA Board Policies for South Ripley Community School Corporation, effective October 21.
Under financial news, the following items were approved unanimously:
• Adoption of the 2014 General, transportation, debt service, capital projects, bus replacement, and Rainy Day funds, budgets, levies and rates.
• Line 2 reduction of $200,000 in the 2013 General Fund certified budget in the form of a resolution.
• Three-year capital projects fund plan complete with a resolution.
• Twelve-year bus replacement plan with a signed resolution.
Under information items, the following were discussed:
• Moorhead shared details of a plan to purchase TalentEd software from NetChemia to streamline the job application process.
• Moorhead also shared the Emergency School Closing Plan for the 2013-2014 school year. Parent notification will take place using the new One Call Now system.
• The 2014 health insurance consortium has increased rates by 5%.
• Moorhead congratulated South Ripley Cross Country Regional participants.
Under personnel changes, the following were approved unanimously:
• FMLA leave for Richard Sproessig, beginning October 7, 2013 - November 15, 2013.
• Intermittent FMLA leave for Patricia Sproessig, beginning October 7, 2013 - November 15, 2013.
• Employment of Chris Schmaltz as a substitute bus driver, effective immediately.
• Ryan Sparks, to fill the posted position of seventh grade girls basketball coach, effective immediately for the 2013-2014 school year season.
• Kelly Sparks, to serve as volunteer coach for the Junior High girls basketball program for the 2013-2014 school year season.
• Luke Stewart to serve as a volunteer to assist with boys high school basketball program for the 2013-2014 school year season.
Those in attendance at this meeting were Merritt Alcorn, school attorney; Jeff Cornett, Carol Holzer, Randy McIntosh, Jim Miller; Lana Miller, business manager; Robert Moorhead, superintendent; Tim Taylor, and Becky Turner. The next regular business meeting will be November 18.