The Edison Local Board of Education is taking steps to increase safety by reintroducing its carry concealed policy.
The board discussed its plans during the Dec. 15 meeting at John Gregg Elementary School and Superintendent Bill Beattie said it was another way to ensure buildings would be protected.
“We always wanted to continue doing it because of the rural area and the [proximity of] first responders. It’s best to have an extra layer of protection in addition to our SRO’s,” Beattie added.
The decision follows the signing of House Bill 99 with added guidance by Gov. Mike DeWine. One of the main subjects would again permit school staff to be armed inside the building, but it now requires up to 24 hours of initial school-specific training and up to eight hours of annual requalification to be developed by the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC). As part of their training, selected staff would learn response tactics and neutralizing potential threats, among other strategies. Gov. DeWine also emphasized that the bill was not a mandate and leaves the choice of arming staff at the discretion of local school boards.
Edison had previously permitted the practice but stopped amid regulation changes, and Beattie said the district has an opportunity to start again and ensure students and staff are secure.
“We had to submit a survey to the OSSC to allow us to have staff carry while in school,” he said. “We are waiting for the vendor who trained the staff to get approval to retrain our staff.”
He added that once the approval is given, interested staff members would undergo training. That plan also comes on the heels of a windfall through the governor’s K-12 School Safety Grant Program, which awarded a total of $100 million statewide for security improvements. The district received $400,000–or $100,000 per building—between two funding rounds this year and last year, and leaders are looking to add more safety-based technology to the facilities.
“We decided with the principals to develop a list of what they felt they needed, and we’ll determine what to get based on those lists,” he added. “Our hope is to update the cameras and key fobs for every building.”
District Technology Director Rachael Granatir also noted that some equipment needed modernized.
“We have old analog cameras at the elementary schools and will update them to Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, so it will be easier for safety issues and 911,” she said. “We’re looking at better coverage of the cameras, especially in an emergency situation, so all of the interior and exterior are covered as well as possible. The cameras have been updated but some are 10 to 15 years old. The IP cameras connect to a server and our administrators, SRO’s and emergency response teams can access them on a phone.”
She said it provides real-time access and officials do not need to be inside the building. Granatir added that the door fobs would also secure access and other potential projects include visitor identification badges and exterior lighting in the parking lots. Hopes are to have contracts in place this spring and projects underway during summer, and all of the work must be completed by 2024.
In other action, the board:
–Approved certified substitutes Morgann Ault, Johni Miller and Maxwell Moffo;
–Employed Emily Ferrell as an intervention specialist at Stanton Elementary and named David Long as a substitute van driver;
–Approved a contract with Maple Consulting, LLC to provide communications and marketing services for the school district from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2023;
–Re-appointed Ron Smyth to the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board for a three-year term ending in December of 2025;
–Increased the minimum wage for aides, cooks, night building cleaners and secretaries to $10.10 per hour and custodians to $10.80 per hour based on the minimum wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2023;
–Set the board’s organizational meeting for Jan. 11 at 5:45 p.m. at Stanton Elementary with current board President Aaron Richardson to act as president pro tempore. The regular board meeting will follow at 6 p.m.