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Posted: 01/16/13

RCS board forms safety
and security committee

Observer Staff Writer
      In addition to administrators, the Romeo Community Schools Board of Education will examine how to increase safety and security in the district.
       During the board's Jan. 7 organizational meeting, board members voted 7-0 to create a new ad hoc subcommittee that examines safety in the district.
       As board members determine what subcommittees they wish to serve on, Treasurer Chris Giancarli suggested the board consider forming a safety committee.
       The suggestion comes in the wake of a shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in December. The massacre resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six staff members.
       Board President Anita Banach said she would rather see safety discussions kept within the board's facilities subcommittee, saying the state may soon decide how districts handle facility needs.
       "The state's going to direct a lot of that, or they're not, because if they direct it they'll have to pay for it," she said. "In terms of day-to-day practice of any new initiatives that we're doing I would think that would come through facilities."
       Trustee Gus Demas recommended an ad hoc safety subcommittee to expedite any safety talks. Since it is ad hoc, the committee is only called upon when necessary and doesn't require amending board policy for its formation.
       "When we're talking about something as comprehensive as safety and security it's more than facilities," Demas said.
       He said the subcommittee could be made up of board representatives as well as administrators and community members.
       Giancarli said he believes a lot of safety issues also have to deal with policy as well as facilities, so overlap is needed.
       Residents had mixed comments about safety in the district. Pat Cichoski, whose granddaughter is in kindergarten in Romeo, said she was in support of the district placing armed guards in each building and updating the safety plans.
       "With all of the violence that's been going on around the country and the schools today, I'm very concerned, and I know a lot of other people who are as well," she said.
       Banach said the board would have the ad hoc committee look into policies or investing funds into safety, though she pointed out that the school does have plans and procedures in effect that are practiced in the buildings.
       "We do work in partnership with our law enforcement, we do have crisis plans," she said.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell has previously stated she didn't see the district heading in the direction of having armed guards.
       Jean Van Poppel, the parent of a Romeo student, said he believes the safety subcommittee wasn't necessary, adding that the district has seen some success in its security camera systems.
       "To me, it's a bit hasty," he said.
       The district is currently investigating the feasibility of installing doors in each facility that must be buzzed open as a way of increasing safety.

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