By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
While no plans can be unveiled yet, Findlay City Schools administrators and school board members have continued to discuss school security following a community meeting on the subject in March, Superintendent Ed Kurt said Monday night.
Ideas include adding security personnel throughout the district — currently they’re based at the high school and go elsewhere as needed — and employing mental health “liaisons” who would work in schools and with “outside agencies,” Kurt said at Monday’s school board meeting.
The district may ask voters to support a levy earmarked for those areas, Kurt said.
Ohio law allows school districts to levy property taxes for purposes that include “funding permanent improvements to provide or enhance security, employing or contracting with safety personnel, providing mental health services and counseling, or providing training in safety and security practices and responses,” according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
“Right now, even in our operational deficit, we’re spending general fund money — a lot — in these areas already,” Kurt said. “What happened Friday in Texas, what’s happened across the United States, you know, you can’t put a price on the life and the safety of our children, of our employees, of our district.”
The school district’s security personnel now cost “just under $200,000” annually. The money comes from the general fund, Kurt said.
ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training, and partial installation of The Boot on classroom doors are good steps, “But do you ever do enough when it comes to the safety of children? And so as a community, we had the community forum. We listened. We didn’t sit on our hands. We went and met beyond that, and we’re continuing to meet. We’ve looked at the resistant film that you can put on glass, but let’s start talking about the amount of glass here, you know, and the cost,” Kurt said, referring to the windows in the cafe at Millstream Career Center, where Monday’s meeting was held.
“So as a community, we have to decide where we want to go,” he said.
Having “identified our risks” through the community forum, the district is now working to “minimize that in the short term and then be proactive in the long term for all of our buildings,” said board member Matt Cooper, who serves on the board’s facilities committee.
“I wouldn’t get into the whole discussion of everything that we’re trying to do, because some of that stuff needs to be kept secret. But we are looking at a lot of different things,” Cooper said.
Kurt said he’ll be discussing security options with Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, whom he described as “very receptive to a collaborative approach on this.”
Separately Monday, board members and administrators discussed two new high school classes, one about conspiracy theories, and another about history through film, that are being developed for next school year.
“I think it’s a great concept in the sense that the kids like to watch film, they like to watch video, they learn best that way,” said board member Susan Russel. “But Oliver Stone’s, you know, ‘JFK’ was one point of view, for instance, of history. … You can’t wrap history up in a two-hour movie. There’s a lot of different points of view of history, and some are well-represented in film and some maybe aren’t.”
“It just needs to be balanced,” she said.
Board members will receive more information about the curriculum before July, when the classes are up for approval.
The history through film course will include analyzing whether films are historically accurate, Findlay High School Principal Ryan Imke said after the meeting.
The conspiracy theory class is “a survey of understanding what is out there — some of the different theories that people have, and then being investigative of those theories,” Imke said. “We’re trying to teach our students to be critical thinkers and to analyze text and to work to, you know, develop kind of their own opinions on things.”
That will help students identify appropriate, legitimate sources when doing college research, he said.
Separately, 41 Millstream Career Center students will graduate with a “readiness seal” on their diploma from OhioMeansJobs, said Pam Hamlin, Millstream’s career tech and adult education coordinator.
The seal means graduates have demonstrated 15 qualities such as reliability, punctuality, discipline and professionalism.
Twenty Findlay students and 21 from county schools earned the seal, “but not one of them needed it for graduation requirements,” Hamlin said.
Students in the class of 2018 have three graduation pathways, one of which involves earning an industry-recognized work credential or combination of credentials.
They could also earn a “remediation-free” ACT or SAT score, or score 18 or more points on seven end-of-course tests.
Separately, the board approved a five-cent increase on school meals for adults, bringing breakfast to $1.80 and lunch to $3.25.
Student prices will remain the same.