BOE discusses school safety

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All present at the Chilton County Board of Education meeting Tuesday stood together in prayer as board member Joe Mims recognized the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting Dec. 14 in Connecticut.

Superintendent Dave Hayden told board members he met with Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis and Chief Brian Stilwell of the Clanton Police Department on Monday to review the safety policies for each school in the county.

Hayden said he is waiting for the state to give him an estimate of how much it would cost per year to place a resource officer in every school in Chilton County, but he estimates it would be more than $720,000 each year.

As they study the current school safety plans, Davis, Stilwell and their departments will provide suggestions to Hayden on how the plans can be improved.

“We’re trying to assure people we’re doing the best we possibly can to keep our students and faculty members safe,” Hayden said.

Board member Curtis Smith asked if all of the schools have the same plan.

Hayden said ‘no’ since schools have different floor plans.

“For example, some schools have different buildings that are just detached from each other, and some tend to be all connected,” Hayden said. “If everything is connected, it’s much easier to lock it down than it is buildings that are detached and stand alone. That’s why we have the different plans in different places.”

Hayden said before the Connecticut shooting occurred, Chilton County EMA Director Bill Collum had contacted the helicopter ambulance services that serve the county and established landing sites with specific GPS coordinates at all schools.

“At this point, I’m certainly open to suggestions,” Hayden said. “I know all of the board is. We just want people to know that we are being proactive.”

In other business, Thorsby Mayor Jean Nelson and Lee Helms from Lee Helms Associates LLC addressed the board about a federal grant that was approved to construct a community storm shelter at Susan Bentley Field, Thorsby High School’s football stadium.

They distributed packets of project information to the board for further review.

Nelson said project organizers also see the storm shelter potentially serving as a field house for student athletes.

The town must receive the board’s approval before moving forward with the project because the shelter site would be located on BOE property.

The board did not make a final decision on the Thorsby project Tuesday but did approve the Chilton County Mentoring Program to operate in local schools.

Bill Pinson, one of the program’s organizers, was present at the meeting, as was Verbena Principal Robin Cagle.

The board approved for Verbena High to serve as the pilot school for the mentoring program.

Other business the board conducted included:

•Awarding a bid to Verizon Wireless for wireless telecommunications and Internet service and equipment.

•Approving the payment of $2,057 to Boy Scouts of America for the Learning for Life character education program.

•Approving the purchase and installation of a new playground structure at Verbena Annex.

•Permitting the Central Alabama Red Devils football team to use Verbena’s football field for games and the grassy area near its softball field for practice from February-June 2013 pending insurance and proper forms.