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Jennifer Graham has two children in the Marion County school system, and she wants to make sure they and other students are safe when they are at school.
To that end, she has asked the district to consider installing metal detectors at the front and back entrances to Marion County High School. She made her request during the Nov. 25 Marion County Board of Education meeting.
"I feel that the metal detectors ... would be an excellent deterrent," Graham told the board.
Graham explained that she is the parent of two students within the district and a psychiatric nurse who spoke to several high school students after recent incidents at the high school.
Following the death of a student, several rumors circulated in the community about the possibility of something happening at the high school. As a result, local and state law enforcement officers were present at the high school during the week of Nov. 10. No weapons were found during that week, and none of the rumors were substantiated by law enforcement.
Graham said she spoke with female students who felt the wand searches conducted by law enforcement were invasive. According to Graham, metal detectors would not be any more invasive than walking through the doors at Wal-Mart or Kroger.
"You're just walking through the door regularly as you would," Graham said.
She also said she spoke with the Lebanon Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff's Office about the cost of installing metal detectors. They told her the detectors would cost about $5,000 apiece.
Graham added that she knows the district does not have money in the budget to pay for metal detectors.
"My request to you is to entertain the idea and allow me the opportunity to try to raise the funds," she said. "I believe that I can do that without cutting into the school budget."
Superintendent Roger Marcum said he appreciated Graham coming forward to discuss her idea. He added that the district has taken steps in recent years to increase security at schools throughout the district, including the high school. He continued to say that there are other issues related to metal detectors beyond just the question of invasiveness.
Marcum suggested creating a committee including board members, parents, educators and students to discuss what steps may be needed at the high school.
"I think it needs some more research," he told Graham. "I appreciate that you're so enthused about it."
Graham said she would be willing to serve on that committee and suggested having the committee discuss the dress code as well.
Marcum also reminded everyone that the police did not find anything during their week at the high school.
"There's no greater risk at Marion County High School than when we started in August or a year ago or any other time," he said.
Marion County High School Principal Taylora Schlosser said she spoke with high school employees about the aftermath of the recent incident. She said faculty members have discussed what can be done to address the safety and well-being of students. Some suggestions that have been presented already include a comment box for students and creating a mentoring program.
"We want to address the whole child," Schlosser said.
Board members Bernard Miles and Alex Ackermann also spoke in favor of creating a committee. Board Chairwoman Sr. Kay Carlew asked Schlosser to present a report about the committee to the next board meeting.
Later in the meeting, Marcum spoke about a recent meeting he and Ackermann had with the Knight Vision Council, which is made up of middle and high school students. He said he spoke with the students about metal detectors. Their concerns included the inconvenience of having to wait to enter the school, particularly if a student set off the detector and had to be searched closer, according to Marcum. He added that he asked the students to think about what steps could be taken to improve security at the high school.
"It was a very healthy discussion," Ackermann said.
In other business:
- Marcum said the Knight Vision Council members also expressed interest in having a student representative on the school board. Marcum was asked by the council and by Ackermann to get more information from district's that do have student representatives.
- The school board heard presentations by the Lebanon Middle School choir and a student presentation about the ITEST program.
- Marion County Education Association President Holly Buckman announced that teachers Sarah Martin (of Glasscock Elementary) and Daniel Mattingly (of Marion County High School) will represent the certified staff on the superintendent search committee.
- Superintendent Marcum said the recently announced $460 million shortfall in the state budget will likely result in a 1-5 percent cut in SEEK funding for Kentucky public schools.
- The board approved a $31,913 KETS Offer of Assistance and authorized matching funds to be used from the districts "ed tech" account.
School closing information announced
Marion County Superintendent Roger Marcum recently sent a reminder of the school closing policy for Marion County Public Schools.
Marion County Public Schools will make every effort to announce any cancellation of school, delay in the school day, early dismissal, or other change in the school daily schedule by no later than 6 a.m. of that day.
In emergency circumstances requiring immediate notification of MCPS employees, students, parents and community, the MCPS One Call Now Phone Information System will be utilized. In a matter of minutes, a recorded phone message will go to each home/business/industry phone number or cell phone number.
The following television, radio stations and newspaper will be contacted for school closing information:
WKYT-27 TV Lexington WAVE-3 TV Louisville WHAS-11 TV Radio & TV Louisville WLEX-18 TV Lexington WLKY-32 TV Louisville WTVQ-36 TV Lexington WDRB FOX-41 TV Louisville WDKY-56 TV Louisville WLBN/WLSK-100.9 Radio Lebanon 102.7 The Bear-Radio WCKQ Q104-Radio WO6AY-6 TV Lebanon
The Lebanon Enterprise Website - www.lebanonenterprise.com
To obtain information from the Marion County Board of Education, you may call 270-692-3721 ext. 411 or visit the school district's website: www.marion.kyschools.us.