Dear Community Members,
Student and staff safety continue to be a high priority for our Board of Education and administration. Since the shootings last spring in Chardon we have done much to secure our schools at little or no expense to the taxpayers. Our school safety committees in each building meet on a regular basis to review plans and make changes to improve building security. School Resource Officer, Sergeant Charles Hillman, meets regularly with our school administrators to share information and make suggestions for improving school safety. For example, when Sergeant Hillman met with us in early September, he suggested that all principals take a course called Active Shooter Training. This training seeks to inform the participant about how to identify a potential perpetrator and gives suggestions as to what to do in the event of such a school event. Though all principals attended the training in December, after Sandy Hook, we had scheduled this training back in September.
When the Newtown tragedy took place in December we redoubled our efforts. Some local superintendents and I met with Representative Ron Gerberry in December during the Winter/Christmas break to give him suggestions for school safety legislation. Recently, a few local superintendents including me met with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Senator Joe Schiavoni for a similar purpose. I will continue to be politically active in voicing my concerns with our state representatives regarding a need for help in this area.
The Boardman Police Department is currently conducting mandatory one-hour school safety training sessions in each of our schools for staff members. The police department will have a two-hour follow-up session later in the spring. Teachers and staff members have been very pleased with the quality of the training and the information learned.
In January I recommended to the Board of Education that we place our current 1.6 mill permanent improvement levy (first passed in 1988) on the ballot as a replacement. Due to reduction factors and the loss of the local tangible personal property tax, we now receive just under 1 mill of taxation from the original 1.6 mill levy. A replacement would bring the issue back up to its original voted rate from back in 1988. My justification for doing this is the fact that there is no money in the current budget for security upgrades and much needs to be done from upgrading building communication systems to securing entrances in six of our seven buildings. Keep in mind that permanent improvement money can only be spent on the buildings and grounds and by law cannot be spent on personnel and salaries. Presently, the lionŐs share of the permanent improvement levy money goes to pay down the debt encumbered when we added on to Stadium Drive and Robinwood Lane Elementary schools in order to get rid of the trailers. I will continue to write about the permanent improvement replacement levy in future letters.
Finally, the Boardman Police Department and I are planning an active shooter simulation/drill for Boardman High School over spring recess. This event will involve a variety of law enforcement agencies in addition to the Boardman Fire and Police Departments. I will share more about this in the future.
I hope all community members have a bit more peace of mind knowing that the Boardman Police, your Board of Education, and I have the welfare of our students and staff in the forefront.