By Kathleen Wilson
When school reconvenes in the fall the most obvious change will be the presence of Police Officers in the Florida Union Free School District. Security in Superintendent Jan Jehring’s District is always at the forefront and reviewed annually by the School Board.
In the beginning of 2018, the District reviewed its security plan and defined annual and long-term goals to enhance existing security systems in the District schools, as well as additional measures they will incorporate in and around the schools to further increase security.
Working with budgets, applications for funds from State sources together with meeting the criteria required are all part of the arduous task that takes time, analysis, comparisons, estimates, meetings, etc. It’s important to note the changes are the result of a lot of feedback the District received from the parents.
The District held two safe and security meetings with parents of students as well as individual discussions, phone calls, and visits to other schools. Every piece of information and feedback was evaluated to determine the best possible solution to ensure student safety in the District’s schools.
In a work session, Jehring stated, “The immediate change will be the addition of Police Officers when school opens in September.”
Recently, “hardening the perimeter,” became a widely used phrase as schools throughout the Nation were increasing school security. The recent school tragedies necessitated this type of increased security to enhance student safety.
In addition to Police Officers, the Florida Union Free School District budgeted $35,000 from the General Fund for more security cameras, both interior and exterior, for the 2018-19 school year and an additional $35,000 in 2019-20. And that’s just the beginning.
After interviewing three security firms, the District contracted IntraLogic Solutions. The company provides a variety of security services and solutions to educational institutions across the New York tri-state area and they are on the New York State OGS (Office of Goods & Services) list, allowing Districts to purchase goods and services directly which eliminates the time-consuming bid process.
Equally as important is the fact that all existing cameras and all the new purchases can be integrated with existing security systems at Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Institute.
A new, stand-alone “Visitor Management System” will be among the changes in 2018-19. It can be used now and can be easily integrated into the current system.
“Timing isn’t exact yet since security companies are inundated, but will be operational in the fall,” noted Jehring.
Access control was discussed too and talk of a key card system for outside doors to the buildings for the future. Stand alone buttons to activate the system were mentioned and discussed briefly. The District is still getting more information on this add-on. Some of the other upgrades will be evident in the fall, while others, including security vestibules, are under discussion for inclusion in the Capital Project.
Another discussion detailed various states of possible emergencies such as a lock-down and lock-out drill, and communicating with the parents versus the students texting from the school without knowledge of the type of occurrence.
Jehring stated, “We recognize that students will be in contact with parents during an emergency and, as a District, we want to be able to notify parents immediately.”
Under the existing system it takes approximately 30 minutes to write, record, and send a message to all the parents. Considering potential variations of emergencies, a multi-select lock-down can be executed by the District’s schools and release the type of communication required to appropriately notify the parents in the event it becomes necessary. In the event of a lock-down, a panic button can immediately disseminate a mass notification. There will also be tie-ins to the PA systems in the District schools as well as video intercom.
Oath of Office for Newly Elected
Also during the meeting, District Clerk Leta Jagielski administered the Oath of Office to: President Elect John T. Redman II, Board member Elect Rob Scheuermann, Board Vice President Timothy Beattie; Superintendent of Schools Jan Jehring; appointments to Leta L. Jagielski, District Clerk (Oath of Office was administered by the President of the school board); Lisa Tencza, Treasurer of the Board of Education and Laurie Catal was appointed to serve as Deputy District Treasurer.
Other elections and appointments for the upcoming school year were announced including: NYS and Orange County School Boards Association Delegates, Federal Funds Director, Compliance Officers, Building Leadership Teams, District Advisory Team, HIPAA Compliance Officers, Chief Faculty Counselors, and more. Designations and Authorizations followed elections then appointments to special committees. The Board worked on an agenda that was almost 30 pages in length which included their regular monthly meeting and the Annual Organizational meeting.
Discussion of New Safety Zone
The Board discussed, as it has in the past, the vicinity near Cedar Crest Estates and the need to designate this area as a Safety Zone. State law stipulates the criteria that must be met to designate an area as a Safety Zone. Designated safety zones provide bus transportation for grades one through five, but bus service is not provided to six through the 12th grade pupils unless they live two miles from their school.
While the area under discussion does not meet the State distance requirement, the volume of traffic and lack of sidewalks combined with the fact that there are no crosswalks creates an environment that makes it necessary to pursue the designation. The Board is working with the State to meet all the criteria to receive this designation. Designation of Safety Zones is an annual requirement. Further progress on this issue will be discussed as it occurs.
Capital Projects/Other Items
The District is looking at their fields at Golden Hill and S.S. Seward and the possibility of expansion. Home owners are willing to meet with members of the District. Jehring reached out to the School Board to invite interested board members to participate in the meetings. Meetings have not been scheduled as of this publication.
Substitute teacher rates and long-term substitute teacher rates were taken under consideration and included certified teachers, Bachelor Degree substitutes, and non-certified levels and increased per diem pay rates as deemed appropriate to ensure alignment with area districts.
New software will be added in the fall to facilitate scheduling for substitute teachers. The app, which can be used on a cell phone, will increase efficiency for both the substitutes and the schools.
The hourly pay rate for substitute bus drivers was also increased.
Next Board Meeting
The Florida Union Free School District will hold its next monthly Board meeting on Thurs., Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial building, located at 51 N. Main St. in Florida.