Security at School of the Osage buildings ― especially Mills Elementary ― is on the mind of at least one parent who addressed the Osage Board of Education Monday night.

Security at School of the Osage buildings ― especially Mills Elementary ― is on the mind of at least one parent who addressed the Osage Board of Education Monday night.

Jeff Carroll, a district parent and father of a Mills student, told the board he was concerned about student safety not only at Mills but at all of the School of the Osage buildings. A few other parents attended the meeting in support of Carroll’s concerns.

“I’m concerned about what’s being done,” Carroll said.

He said he’s aware that security upgrades are part of a $22 million bond issue approved by voters last April, but added, “what’s being done in the meantime?”

Following school board protocol, Carroll was given about five minutes for his presentation, which was followed by comments from Lake Ozark Police Chief Mark Maples. The board and administration declined to comment, again based on school board policy.

Carroll said he addressed his concerns in a letter to Superintendent Dr. Brent Depeé, and said he was told that security would be updated at Mills. That hasn’t happened, Carroll said.

“One thing I’d like to see is feedback,” he said. “Do we need more parent support?”

He offered to bring more parents to a meeting if necessary to get the board’s and administration’s attention.

Carroll said an intruder could easily walk into the Mills Elementary gymnasium.

“Not to be morbid, but to be real in our society now, it can happen. We have to be concerned,” he said.

Carroll asked other questions of the board and administration:

•Who’s doing the research on security?

•Are employees being trained?

•Is there any teacher training?

“I understand money is always an issue, but to me the economic impact of not doing something (and having a tragedy) is greater than doing something,” he said.

“I’m concerned and want to move forward. There’s talk of a School Resource Officer (SRO), and in my opinion that’s a great route to go. Has the school looked into funding? Is an SRO the solution? Or teachers carrying guns? That’s not the best option, but it’s an idea. The parents I’ve talked to want to know if you’re moving forward on security,” he said.

Maples’ concerns

“My concern is the Heritage Building,” LOPD Chief Maples said to the board. “What are you going to do to make it safe and secure?”

The Heritage Building will become the new home for Mills Elementary students next fall after a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion. It also will house preschool students and administration.

Maples said Mills Elementary is easier to patrol because of its smaller size and proximity to emergency response facilities.

“But the Heritage Building is different,” Maples said. “It takes an hour to walk through. There are 22 exits, which are possible entry points. Are we doing all we can to make it safer?

“I’m telling you right now, I’m doing all I can to make the school safe,” he explained, noting that Lake Ozark’s resources are limited. With an increased presence in the Mills building in recent years, problems with custody and parental-rights have dissipated.

“You can put in doors and windows and cameras, but at the end of the day people stop people,” he said.

Maples is proposing a School Resource Officer (SRO) for the Heritage Building who can not only patrol the building but also provide instruction and education for the staff and parents.

“An SRO is an immediate deterrent,” he noted. “If there is an incident, I’ll be there as soon as I can with the resources I have. I think we need to be proactive, and an SRO who is there every day goes a long way toward that.”

He said parents have contacted him asking what is being done.

“The city of Lake Ozark does not have the resources to provide an SRO like Osage Beach does,” Maples said. “If we do anything, we’d have to enter into a partnership with the school and my board supports that type of partnership.”

The city of Osage Beach pays for an SRO at buildings on the Highway 42 campus.