BV board votes for creation of safety team

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Berryville School District is exploring safety options for its students.

The Berryville School Board voted at its Monday meeting to create a safety and security team to research safety options, including a security force composed of staff members serving as registered commissioned security guards and additional school resource officers (SRO).

Board members Chad Hipps and Travis Gregory volunteered to serve as the board’s representatives on the safety and security team, which will present its findings and recommended plans to the board at a later meeting.

Superintendent Owen Powell said he will also develop a questionnaire for staff and students to see if they are for or against having armed staff members.

Powell said the board and district needed to review safety procedures in light of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and the recent expulsion of a Berryville Middle School student who had made threats against the school.

He said that he and Hipps had visited the Clarksville School District, which has staff serving as a security force.

Powell said the way the program works is that each school building has a team of four staff members with concealed carry permits. He said the staff members have to go through 60 hours of training, a psychological evaluation, drug testing and an extensive background check before being approved to serve.

“These staff members are handpicked by the administration and the school board to serve as basically security guards,” he said. “There are four in each building, plus the administration. It works well for Clarksville and their community, and it might be something we want to look at here in Berryville.”

Hipps said he thought Clarksville had a very good program, even though a few things might need to be changed for Berryville.

“Obviously, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of our children,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with something.”

Board member Tyler Ashworth said he would like the safety and security team to look into options such as additional SROs and private security. Board member Kristi Howerton suggested the team look into additional mental health services as well.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in the Intermediate Cafetorium.

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