School safety is a big issue in schools across the nation, and Seneca is no exception.

The school counselors in Seneca have reworking the crisis plan by adding and condensing information.

Cary Ng, high school counselor, and Dustin Davis, elementary counselor, and James Kelly, school resource officer, presented a quick rundown of the new crisis plan to the Seneca Board of Education at the board meeting on March 22.

“There was a new required suicide part that needed to added to the crisis plan by July 1, and when we were adding that we decided to re-do the shot thing,” said Ng.

Mattie Link

The crisis plan hadn’t been updated for several years.

“We were able to reduce some things and add some new things,” said Ng.

According to Ng, the crisis plan is a working document and changes can be made and things can be added or subtracted as they see fit.

“With some things we find out what works and doesn’t work after the fact, and Officer Kelly has been very helpful with his knowledge and getting things set,” said Ng.

They added the required suicide section as well as school maps into the plan.

“The requirement says we (teachers and staff) need to have training and we think it would work better in a more intimate setting with smaller groups,” said Ng.

Ng and Davis were also thinking that the new counselor coming to the district might be able to head that up.

“There are several warning signs in here for teachers to look at and know to look for, as well as several student assessments that we have added to help,” sad Ng.

“The goal is to review the crisis plan possibly twice a year but definitely before each school year starts to see if we need to add anything or make any changes,” said Davis.

The counselors also changed some language in the intruder on campus sections.

“We basically changed it to give teachers the option to do different things in that scenario,” said Ng. “This is something to implement and practice and keep on hand.”

The new crisis plan also includes the 16 drills that the school is supposed to do annually.

During the meeting, Ron Wallace, board member, offered to provide the school district with a “Question Persuade and Refer” (QPR) program that an Eastern Shawnee grant would pay for and the district could use it to present to the small groups.

“Thank you very much for working on this, we really appreciate it,” said Suzanne Brown, board president.

The board decided to take a month to review the crisis plan and then make a decision in April.

“What happened in Florida has seemed to have created a sense of urgency to do something,” said Dr. Jim Cummins, Seneca superintendent of schools.

Cummins shared several different things that surrounding schools have invested in security-wise.

“Mirrored film that isn’t bulletproof, but almost rubber, is something that might work well for our doors,” said Cummins.

Other ideas included: mag-locks; under the desk panic buttons; secret intruders, like secret shoppers but they just try to find a way in to see what the school could do differently; lock box for emergency personnel or key cards; and cameras.

“We have talked heavily about cameras. Where, what type, and the type of needs, said Cummins. “We have two different needs for cameras. The office/administration side if someone steals something out of a locker, and then the emergency side.”

According to Cummins, he talked with Seneca Police Chief James Altic, and Altic possibly has some grant money that could get cameras.

“Something that principals have asked about are how to communicate between classrooms and schools in the district, so that is another thing we are looking into,” said Cummins.

There is also the possibility of getting another school resource officer in the district part-time, and that would give the district two sets of eyes and two people securing the district.

Other items discussed in the board meeting:

• Cummins talked about the foundation board meeting coming up on May 4 at 6 p.m. to recognize teachers of the year and sell some silent auction items to raise money for the foundation to give out scholarships.

“I also spoke with them that when the bond issue passes we will need to start considering fundraising for the additional money needed and how the foundation will be the conduit for the funds,” said Cummins. “I needed them to understand and support that plan and they did.”

• Nathan Manley, assistant superintendent of schools, gave his monthly report.

“Dyslexia is a big mandate for the state and we are continuing to work on that plan before we send it in,” said Manley.

Manley also mentioned taking a trip to Pattonville schools, near St. Louis, to visit their school district and see how they are instructing the elementary school.

“They are running on a competence-based learning system and are being very successful in it,” said Manley.

“This was a low-performing school with high poverty and they went through DESE to change things and they are killing it,” said Cummins.

• The board revisited the bus bid situation from last month and made the decision to purchase all new buses.

“I am kind of leaning toward all new buses,” said Will Cook, board member.

“I’m kind of leaning the same way,” said Wallace.

Cook also explained that he wasn’t sure from a money standpoint but, “with buses you never know what you’re going to get.”

The district will be getting 14 new route buses and four trip buses.

“I’d rather have something we could show for our money when we are all done,” said Brown.

• The board approved the first reading of the MSBA polices.

• The board also approved the custodian pay schedule with no discussion.

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