Top News Story #6: BV, GF schools approve creation of security teams

Friday, December 28, 2018

By Kelby Newcomb

In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. in February, both Berryville and Green Forest school districts have created emergency response teams (ERT) in an effort to prevent active-shooter situations on their own campuses.

The creation of the emergency response teams was voted the No. 6 local news story of 2018 by the Carroll County Newspapers editorial staff.

The Green Forest School Board voted March 12 to approve both the hiring of additional school resource officers (SRO) and the creation of a security force composed of staff members serving as registered commissioned security guards.

Superintendent Matt Summers said the board voted 7-0 on both items.

“That shows the level of commitment that our board has and that we have,” he said. “We’re looking at every possible avenue to make our school as safe as possible for our students and our staff. We’ve done our homework, and I feel like it’s the proper thing for us to do.”

The board voted in April to approve a new security policy regarding the creation and maintenance of an ERT.

The policy states that the superintendent is directed to create and maintain an ERT and file the necessary paperwork required by the Arkansas State Police for the establishment of a School Security Department. The ERT will consist of multiple individuals from each campus, the policy says, and can include individuals from both certified and classified positions.

ERT membership will be on a voluntary basis, it says, and members must be mentally ready and willing to meet the demanding challenges that are presented if an active shooter situation or other similar emergency should ever arise at Green Forest schools.

The board voted Monday, Sept. 17, to amend Policy 2.4 to clarify that each staff member will receive a one-time stipend of $1,100 and an annual stipend of $100 every year thereafter while serving as an ERT member for the maintenance and upkeep of required equipment.

Staff members serving on the ERT completed the training to be a commissioned school security officer (CSSO), and the program was implemented on Green Forest campuses for the 2018-19 school year.

The Berryville School Board followed suit, voting Monday, June 18, to approve the CSSO program.

Superintendent Owen Powell had said the district was considering a maximum of 12 members on the security force for the program’s first year. Both classified and certified staff members can serve as CSSOs, he said, and the program will be paid for by Title I funding.

The board later voted Monday, July 23, to approve hiring School Training Services LLC to train school staff members who will serve in the CSSO program.

“In researching these groups, I found that School Training Services is the best at it,” he said. “They are a little more expensive, but in doing something like this we don’t need to do the cheapest version. We need to go with the best there is out there. Everything I can find says that they are the best.”

The board voted Monday, Sept. 24, to approve Policy 2.4, which allows for the creation and maintenance of an ERT.

Powell said the the Berryville School District had been approved by the Arkansas State Police to have a school security department. After approving Policy 2.4, he said the next step would be to contact Scott Lewis of School Training Services LLC to schedule training for the staff members serving as commissioned school security officers (CSSO) on the ERT.

Powell said the initial training will be 60 hours, with 24 hours every year thereafter.

Board member Chad Wilson made a motion to amend Policy 2.4 to state that each staff member will receive an initial stipend of $1,100 for the first year and an annual stipend of $500 every year thereafter. The board voted to approve the amended policy.

Board president Chad Hipps stated that the board would go into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss the candidates for the ERT, whose names are to be kept confidential.

Depending on when School Training Services LLC can train Berryville staff, the ERT program will go into effect in the spring semester of the 2018-19 school year or at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

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