POINT PLEASANT — At Thursday’s meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, Facilities Director Ruth Caplinger and Maintenance Director Cameron Moffett updated the board on their evaluation of school security measures.
Caplinger began by saying prior to Mason County Schools dismissal for Christmas break, and shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, she had asked each of the schools to have a group of employees meet and discuss their current security procedures and to brainstorm on how they could be improved.
Moffett also spoke regarding certain safety procedures identified by colors, such as a “code red,” saying the colors for such procedures were not consistent throughout every Mason County School and could potentially be confusing, especially for substitute teachers who travel from school to school.
Caplinger also discussed ideas to make these color coded procedures congruent among all Mason County Schools, but said it would be best to wait for the time being. Caplinger explained her reasoning, saying she and Moffett would be attending Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA) training in February where representative from many other school districts would be attending and discussing security measures that would perhaps affect schools across the state. Caplinger said they could potentially make changes now, but then other changes may come again following the RESA training, so it would simply be best to wait as to avoid more confusion on changing procedures.
For the time being, Caplinger said she has also encouraged school principals and staff to simply keep an eye on who in the school is wearing identification badges as well as visitor stickers and passes, as a way to keep an eye on who is coming in and out of the schools. Caplinger also said she had recently met with Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers to discuss any possible ways to make schools safer.
Also speaking to the board on the topic of increasing school security was New Haven Mayor George Gibbs. Gibbs informed board members of the town’s idea of possibly having a police officer assigned at New Haven Elementary School. Gibbs said the responses so far from New Haven residents and New Haven Elementary School staff have been positive, as well as reiterating some of the possible benefits he previously spoke on with the Point Pleasant Register. Some of those benefits included increasing the security at the school, allowing the students to build a positive relationship with the officer, as well as providing the town of New Haven with another officer when school was not in session, if the officer would be from the New Haven Police Department.
Gibbs added that this idea was still in the planning stages and said he was merely there to open the doors to begin conversations with Superintendent Suzanne Dickens and board members on whether this idea may be pursued. Board members were receptive to Gibbs’s ideas and Dickens said she and her staff would meet with him to discuss the matter further.
In addition to Superintendent Dickens, board members present were Tom Nunnery, Randy Searls, Greg Fowler, Paul Sayre, and Dale Shobe.
The Mason County Board of Education will meet again at 6 p.m. on Jan. 29, at the Mason County Career Center.
(Note: More on this meeting will appear in a later edition of the Point Pleasant Register.)