BROOKVILLE — No change is not an option; the more we can get, the better, was the consensus of a small group of community residents who attended a public meeting Tuesday night to discuss safety issues in the local schools.
Superintendent Robin Fillman opened the meeting with an overview of security measures now in place in the Brookville School District.
“The board has some very difficult decisions to make,” she said. “We want to get feedback from the community as to what your wishes are. The board really wants to get the community involved.”
Fillman said “we are always having dialog and creating plans for all hazards. We don’t just prepare for active shooters. We prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, an accident on Route 80. We practice inside intruders, we practice outside intruders. We really work hard on keeping the school safe.”
Fillman said the campus was evaluated by the state police “and our committee has built upon those recommendations. This year the state came and did a security audit of our district. They went through all of our policies, our procedures and they particularly were very intense about Pinecreek School. The state auditor, as well as the state police, said our school had very few findings and they were very minor.” Fillman said the board “has chosen to do them, but we really met very high standards.”
Fillman also reviewed recent security changes which have been implemented in the district, including limited public access to the campus while school is in session. “This was a hard decision for us to make, because we have a fabulous campus and people use it a lot. But the problem was that the community was using it so much we weren’t sure who was on campus and who wasn’t on campus. We limited that when school is in session just to have an idea of who is on campus.”
The district also has a memorandum of understanding with the Brookville Police Department, with officers making random checks at the schools. “The nice thing about the MOU is that no one knows when they are going to be here; it’s very random,” Fillman said.
Fillman also gave a brief review of a security meeting held with students in grades 9 to 12 near the end of the school year. “Our student population was very heavy with metal detectors,” she said. “We kind of wondered why and to my surprise they said they thought it would cut down on drugs coming into the schools.”
She pointed out that the 2018-2019 district budget includes $95,000 for security, but that won’t pay for everything. A metal detector would cost in the range of $5,000, with five or six needed for the schools. The salary for a social worker could range from $30,000 to $40,000. The salary for a full-time police officer would be about $40,000 or $28,000 for a part-time officer.
Facilitating the small group meetings was Susan Ford, director of the Drug and Alcohol Commission. She said that a recent survey of local students showed that 80 percent feel safe when they come to school.
The audience, which included community members, school board members and school administrators, was broken up into four groups for small group discussions. The groups then came back with these recommendations:
• Blue group — Take preventive measures and do whatever we can afford to do.
• Yellow group — Create peer to peer support groups which can be targeted for specific groups, such as students whose parents are incarcerated or those who have been bullied. Listen to students and offer more training for teachers and support staff, so they can recognize the needs of the students.
• Red group — Use metal detectors in conjunction with a police officer. One police officer is not enough; one in each school would be ideal.
• Green group — Offer more training for staff.
After the group discussions were presented, each person in the audience was given three dots to place on posters, voting for the security measures they felt to be most important. The majority of the votes were to add police officers to the schools, with metal detectors the next choice and hiring a social worker and offering more training for staff being the third choice.
“We can’t thank you enough for your participation,” Fillman said. “We feel good about the work we have done and plan to move ahead. We would like to put this in place by the first day of school.”