Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2007

Board prepares against worst

School Board discusses school safety during yearly retreat

November 8, 2007

Preparedness was at the center of talks Saturday as Lansing School Board members met for their annual board retreat to foster cooperation and discuss future goals.

Superintendent Randal Bagby started the day with a discussion about school safety issues, particularly in the event of a terrorist attack on a Lansing school building.

"The likelihood is very, very small," he said. "But you have to be prepared."

Bagby said while it was a sensitive and uncomfortable subject to discuss, it was vital to have a plan to protect what is "near and dear to our hearts." He said he was passionate about the subject and wanted to get information out to the community to get a dialogue started.

"Watch, listen and report," is Babgy's key motto for what teachers and administrators should teach students. Getting students to recognize strangers who seem suspicious outside of school and then report those sightings to officials is important in prevention, Bagby said.

Discussion among board members centered on educating students to spot threats and then to know how to react should an attack take place.

Beth Stevenson, board vice president, said students would feel reassured knowing the district had a plan for such an attack. Just like with fire or tornado alarms, she said students should be aware and comfortable with a terrorist alarm.

Bagby made sure to stress the fact that too much paranoia about the subject could hurt the district just as much as not having a plan at all. It's a balancing act, he said, between recognizing these attacks could happen in the United States while not letting fear take over.

For now Bagby said he wants to limit access to buildings for the public and teachers during and after school hours. He said he would also be looking into the idea of adding more cameras to buildings.

Discussion then switched to establishing goals for the school year. The board outlined five key components that will become a priority throughout the year.

Items such as developing a districtwide safety planning team and establishing a School Resource Officer were some goals suggested by Bagby that went along with his previous plans to make schools safer for the students.

Facilitating land acquisition for future development was another goal the board hopes to undertake. Bagby said thinking 10 or 15 years down the road was important and would insure a better future for the district.

The plan for full-day kindergarten is something that Bagby said is another goal he wanted to try for a while. He said research shows it's beneficial to students, and he was sure that Lansing residents would welcome the change.

The board plans to discuss the issue at its Nov. 13 board meeting. Bagby said it was important to act soon because he doesn't expect state funding for the project so he needs to begin working it into the budget if the board agrees.

The final goal established Saturday was to build both baseball and football concession and restroom facilities. Bagby said the current facilities at the football field were inadequate and were nearly non-existent at the baseball fields.

The board gave Bagby its blessing to begin immediately on plans to construct the new facilities. Bagby said the project would be done internally and leftover materials from the new elementary school's construction would save the district money.

The final task of the day for board members was to take a tour of the new elementary school and the high school's new auditorium. Dale Bohannon, director of maintenance/capital improvement, conducted the tour.

Members were shown the progress being made, from the completed electrical and plumbing systems to the paint on the walls. Bohannon reported that both projects were on schedule and barring any bad weather, should be done in March or April of 2008.

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