A few days after the killing of elementary students in Connecticut, one concerned parent stepped forward to address the School of the Osage Board of Education in Dec.
Jeff Carroll, whose two daughters attend School of the Osage, spoke to the board for a few minutes during the Public Forum portion of the agenda. He said he was concerned about school security and wondered if the board was addressing the issue.
“I don’t want us to look back and wish we’d done something,” he told the board.
Carroll said he was most concerned about security at Mills Elementary where there is a long, open hallway before reaching the school office, and suggested that the only access to the building be through the front door.
As the school district moves toward an April 2 school bond issue for renovation and expansion of the Heritage Building to house lower elementary students, Carroll suggested school officials keep security in mind, including the possible use of bulletproof glass.
Board policy prohibits board members from responding directly to issues raised during the Public Forum. However, as the board later discussed the upcoming $22 million bond issue it was noted that ballot language had been changed since the shootings to include funding for improved school security.
The school district sent a letter to parents after the shooting outlining what has been done and what is planned for student and faculty safety.
Superintendent Brent Depeé said the school district hired a private company last year to evaluate, update and make recommendations to all of the emergency procedures, including an incident like the one at Sandy Hook. Each building plan has been customized and detailed for that specific building.
“All staff members were trained thoroughly in August in regards to all safety procedures,” Depeé said in the letter. “This training occurs yearly and is ongoing during monthly drills.”
In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the district and each building will revisit those plans and procedures, make any changes necessary, and revisit the plans with building staff. In all of the buildings, there is a single entrance for public access. All of these entrances are monitored by school personnel before, during and at the end of the school day.
Prior to the Dec. 14 event, School of the Osage and Osage Beach Police Department were in the planning phases of a training exercise and docudrama to occur during the 2013-14 school year.
“This will be a training that will prepare schools, the community and first responders and familiarize first responders with our district,” Depeé explained. “We appreciate the Lake Ozark and Osage Beach police departments and their commitment to the safety of our schools, and we thank them for their reassuring presence at our schools. We are blessed to have two police departments with such high levels of commitment and close proximities to our schools. Their presence on our campuses is much appreciated as we continue to make student safety a priority.”