MV directors concerned about door security

Mountain View Elementary School sixth-grade student Lena Penny, center, was awarded “Pride of Mountain View” Jan. 14, for her achievement as “Young Author’s Day Writing Contest Winner” at a program held at Keystone College last fall. From left are teacher Kathy McHenry, Lena’s parents Brian and Ruby Penny, Superintendent Francine Shea, and board president Todd Adams.

By Tom Fontana, Correspondent

Mountain View school directors expressed concern about access to entrances at both the high school and elementary buildings during school hours.

At Monday’s board meeting, maintenance director Robert Taylor was asked to offer an update on the hiring of a firm to review security needs at the schools and submit bid specifications for a security plan.

Taylor previously reported that Highland Security offered the lowest estimate of three firms from which he requested quotes.   (The quotes were only for the compilation of specifications, not for the actual work.)

Taylor repeated his bid results.  “The quotes I got are basically to update our alarm system,” he told the board.

“But what are we going to do now?” director Dava Rinehart-Cowan asked.  “We need to look at our district in regard to security now.”

Director Sondra Stine agreed.  “I’m concerned about security for our students and teachers right now,” she stated.  “We need something done now, not a year from now.”

The primary concern was doors being propped open at both buildings.  “An alarm system would address that,” Taylor said.  “An alarm would go off if a door was left open.”

The board was informed that elementary school principal Andrew Doster checks every door in the elementary building as soon as the school day begins.

Taylor also told the board that maintenance crews work in and around both buildings and check the doors throughout the day.

However, Stine wanted further action.  “We should discuss hiring a security guard for the buildings,” she said.  “We should do something now while we’re waiting for an alarm system.”

Public input included the suggestion that a ‘panic button’ be installed at the desks of secretaries and office personnel that could be utilized to quickly contact ‘911’ in an emergency.

One parent objected to the presence of a security guard, pointing out that it might suggest to students that there is a constant threat to their safety.

The board took no action on any further security measures.

Superintendent Francine Shea reviewed her research on installing district-wide communications for the transportation system, including buses as well as car contractors.

“I’ve been concerned about limited communications in our transportation system,” she told the board.  “I looked into purchasing cell phones for drivers, but there are areas on their routes where service drops out.”

She said other districts use two-way radio units, and she suggested Mountain View consider purchasing a similar system for its drivers.

Board vice president Thomas Stoddard recommended a meeting with all drivers first.  “A lot of them have their own phones,” he said.  “They know best what their coverage area is, they know where the dead spots are.  They could help come up with the best solution.”

“We need to talk to the people who are going to use the phones,” Rinehart-Cowan agreed.

No further action was taken.

In other business:

*Business manager Joseph Patchcoski told the board he would be reviewing Title IX regulations.  “One new item is for sports fundraising,” he said. “Title IX will require all money raised by sports organizations, no matter what sport, will have to be shared, divided up for use by all sports equaling.”

*Director of Special Services Michael Slesinski told the board that Individual Education Plan meetings that used to be held in the fall at the start of school will now by moved to April and May.  “That way we can meet with teachers who have worked with the students throughout the year,” he explained, “and get a better idea of the students’ needs.”

*Director Stoddard questioned the disciplinary procedure for lunch monitors.  “Copies of discipline reports by lunch monitors should be going to school administrators,” he said.  “Otherwise, if a parent calls the principal, how can the administrator know what’s going on?  They’re blindsided.”

*“Pride in Mountain View” awards included a certificate to the board members for School Directors Recognition Month by Shea.