School board agrees to tighten security
The Red Oak School board will pursue state funding for enhancing school security.
At the school board meeting Sept. 12, Superintendent Ron Lorenz said Gov. Kim Reynolds allocated $100 million to enhance school security across the state. She also created a school safety bureau to help districts identify and mitigate threats and provided up to $50,000 per school building to make minor capitol improvements to enhance that security, However, there are stipulations.
“Districts must complete a site-based vulnerability assessment, and the funds can only be used on the needs identified in those assessments,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz suggested the district contract with Strategos International LLC, the third-party contractor for the State of Missouri that completed the assessments in Missouri.
“They will conduct a vulnerability and threat assessment and review all of our facilities, speak with administrators and identify the areas we need to address. They will also help us bolster and consolidate our emergency operations plan. They will help us consolidate them into something that’s easy to use,” explained Lorenz.
Cost of the assessment was up to $16,188, and it can not be paid for with ESSER funds.
“I know that $16,000 is a lot of money, I was hoping it would be less than that. But it’s one of those things that if something happens, millions would be a bargain. For about $14 per student and child, it might be worth it to make sure we’re as secure as we can be,” stated Lorenz.
Lorenz added, Police Chief Justin Rhamy and Montgomery County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Hamman were both in agreement with the choice, and both would be involved in the assessment process. Lorenz said they could start the assessment in October, and the information would be available by November or December.
Board Member Kathy Walker asked if the money would be on a first-come, first serve basis. Lorenz said he was confident that the monies of up to $50,000 would be made available to every district as needed, and the program wasn’t competetive.
“They made it seem like if the district has $50,000 in needs, it will get the $50,000. Now the Q and A is extensive, and I’ve analyzed every paragraph of the 30-page document, but everything I’ve read leads me to believe they will come up with $50,000 per building,” advised Lorenz. “We have three campuses, three attendance centers, and the early childhood center is one because we have preschool kids there, so all those buildings are in play for that $50,000.”
The board approved a contract with Strategos International LLC for the security and vulnerability assessment, at a cost of up to $16,188.
The board also discussed the first reading of board policy regarding meal charges. Lorenz reminded the board that due to the expiration of the federal waivers allowing districts to provide free meals to all students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district had to go back to the pre-COVID federal regulations.
“We have to clarify our position on negative account balances. We are required to have a policy and communication plan so that parents know exactly where they stand relative to account balances. It’s a policy that we need to have on the books and hand out to parents when they come into the district to enroll their kids. We also should notify them of this twice a year,” stated Lorenz.
After getting general direction from the board, the details were fine tuned to a specific proposal.
“The proposal is one which suggests as a district, we allow elementary students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade to charge reimbursable meals, not ala carte items, as those items are not reimbursable by the federal government, so items like French fries or pizza slices cannot be charged,”
Students in grades seventh through 12th grade would be allowed to charge up to $10, or three meals. District employees would not be allowed to charge meals, and the policy stipulates students who qualify for free meals under federal guidelines would never be denied a reimbursable meal even if they do have a negative balance.
“The district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when balances are low, and collect unpaid charges as delinquent debt. That means we will actively pursue that debt be it small claims or collections agencies. Those enterprise funds are self-sustaining, and they have to pay for themselves,” said Lorenz.
The board approved the first reading of the new policy.