School safety was a recurring topic at a special meeting of the Bell County Board of Education on Tuesday.
Parents from Page School attended the meeting to address a change in student drop off procedures. Officials from Page notified parents on Tuesday that they can no longer walk their children to class in the morning.
Parents now have to drop their children off at the door with a member of the school staff.
Parents Bruce and Patricia Cupp voiced concerns with the change. They have a daughter in kindergarten at Page and are concerned with how the change may affect her. Bruce spoke of the close parent teacher relationships his family has always had by walking their children to class every morning. The Cupps fear they will lose the ability to speak with their child’s teacher on a day-to-day basis.
Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam said she had just received the policy change notice right before the meeting and had not yet reviewed it. She plans to review the policy and discuss it with both the board and their attorney to determine what is in the best interest of the students.
A check with several schools in the region indicate this policy to be a common safety measure, having been in place prior to this school year.
Another parent addressed safety concerns arising from traffic congestion at Page. The board acknowledged the problem and assured the public they have already been looking into ways to make after school traffic flow more safely and efficiently.
A possibility already discussed is to have teachers remain in their classrooms until the traffic congestion has cleared.
In another matter, the review of the current crisis management plan was a hot topic. A new version of the plan has recently come out and the board must determine whether to purchase it or consider another company.
Chris Warren, director of pupil personnel, arranged for a safety specialist at Eastern Kentucky University to review the current plan. The specialist reported the plan is very thorough and well put together.
“Our biggest concern is to make sure employees know about the plan,” said Warren, indicating this is an important action on either handbook selected.
The facility proposal for secure entrances explained current reviews of the facilities. Options being considered are buzzer systems, surveillance, panic buttons and door alarms. Kindergarten students at Yellow Creek will be moved from the outside unit into the main building by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The principals’ meeting report revealed only a single significant problem found in a recent audit conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education. The last audit report, five years ago, revealed schools were not taking hourly attendance and the problem has not been fixed.
“I was not made aware of (the problem) until this audit report,” said Gilliam, as she explained to the board why the problem had not been fixed.
Gilliam assured the board solutions are being discussed and will be addressed soon.
The audit revealed two schools, Bell Central and Yellow Creek, had no issues.
You can reach Reina Parker Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.