Schools safer than before, security ongoing

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SAD 17 Director Barry Patrie, who served as a delegate at the recent Maine School Board Association Assembly, told fellow board members at their November 5 meeting that there was a lot of debate and discussion about proposed resolutions during the day long session in Augusta.

PARIS — Superintendent Rick Colpitts assured members of the SAD 17 Board of Directors, at their meeting Monday night, that measures to secure the school buildings continue to be upgraded.

“We’ve done more in the last three months than we have in the past three years,” Colpitts said after Director Bob Jewell expressed concern about whether the buildings were secure from an “active shooter” or other potential violent events.

“I really don’t feel our schools are secure enough,” said Jewell, who has expressed that concern for the past several years.

The discussion followed an hour-long review of the recent Maine School Boards Association 2018 Delegate Assembly in Augusta which was attended by five members of the board, Colpitts and Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hartnett.

During the two-day session, participants were able to attend a number of workshops including one involving TRC Solutions – a national security company which has some 4,000 consultants including many in Maine, who work with schools and others in securing public places.

Director Curtis Cole, who attended the session reported back to the board that he learned school boards may be held liable for an active shooter if a security plan is not in place.

Colpitts told the board that the school district – like many – has insurance for such an event, and although specific plans can not be divulged publicly, the district has been actively training staff, is developing a budget that will reflect improved security in the school buildings and has a specific plan in place in case of an event.

Director Jared Cash suggested that the community at large may benefit from hearing more of the district’s behind the scenes work to secure the buildings without compromising specific plans.

The Assembly also involved a number of resolutions that were debated by delegate and SAD 17 Director Barry Patrie and others.

Patrie said several passed with little debate, such as providing school safety and special education reform, while others such as increasing minimum teacher pay to $40,000 and extending the school year to 180 instructional days and 10 professional teachers days failed.

Patrie said the MSBA also introduced a new resolution to take $30 million out of the state’s “rainy day fund” for school maintenance.

“It was like throwing dogs a bunch of bones. Everyone was in favor of that,” he said.

The board also heard a presentation by Food Services Director, Jodi Truman and Finance Director Cathy Coffey on the District’s Community Eligibility Provision Program and the Food Service Program.

Colpitts announced that long-time Director and district school bus driver Olive Sanborn passed away Saturday after a brief illness.

“We’re all going to miss her,” said Colpitts.

In other business the board approved stipends for:

Danielle Tran, choir accompanist; Ivylynn Moxcey,Oxford Hills Middle School field hockey head coach; and for department heads: Elizabeth Gallagher, nursing; Samantha Medici, math at the Guy E. Rowe Elementary School; Heather Hatch, social studies at the Paris Elementary School and Pamela Marshall, social studies at the Otisfield Community School.

The board also approved the superintendent’s recommendation of Brandon Baer as school counselor at the Oxford Hills Middle School; Joanna Brown as elementary school nurse at the Oxford Elementary School, Otisfield Community School and the Agnes Gray Elementary School; Lori Hart as Educational Technician II at the Oxford Elementary School and Meagan Morrissette as a pre-kindergarten teacher at the Agnes Gray Elementary School.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net