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Principals speak to school security

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With the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde County, Texas in mind, much of Monday’s meeting of the Chadron Public Schools Board of Education was in regard to security at Chadron schools.

Chadron High Principal Jerry Mack said there was a recent meeting with the counselors during which they talked about what happened in Texas. Looking back, he said the Columbine shooting changed law enforcement tactics but Sandy Hook brought about changes to in-school procedures. He is aware the Texas incident will create some concerns, and counselors and principals were reminded to listen to parents and be thoughtful on the approach as schools get back into session later this year.

“I think we’ve been a leader in the state, in the region, for safety procedures and practices,” Mack said, adding that it’s important to complete drills. He noted every fall there is a refresher on school safety and lockdown with substitute teachers and new staff.

Chadron Middle School Principal Nick Dressel said it was a good opportunity to review door protocols with office staff. He said it’s important to be on point with procedures to make sure people feel comfortable with the buildings being secure. Things that have been done for years that are a part of protocol, Dressel added, make him feel good about where things are.

The biggest prevention piece, Dressel said, is continued building of positive relationships between teachers and staff. “I think that’s that most powerful prevention tool a school could have.”

Board member Sandy Roes emphasized if office staff need to make sure they are able to clearly see people at the front door before buzzing them in.

Chadron Elementary Principal Libby Mack said it’s important that everyone is on the same level, including new staff, and take advantage of training opportunities. She further added the relationship between the schools and law enforcement is very tight, and she has confidence in local police and emergency response personnel.

Other important school safety factors Libby noted were the universal screeners and getting information from families in a non-intrusive way.

Jerry said students are taught during their drills to run away from the threat if they know where it is, and to barricade rooms. He expects the incident at Robb Elementary to change how things are done.

Board member Boone Huffman emphasized that safety at the schools is the number one priority, above anything else.

In action at the meeting, lunch prices were approved for the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Meyer noted the district has had free meals for the past two years as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the district was informed that is no longer available. There was a nickel increase across the board last summer, except for reduced price breakfast and lunch, and after school snacks.

Meyer emphasized there must be a push to have people fill out forms for free and reduced lunch eligibility. There are a lot of things that rest on free and reduced price numbers, she said, such as Title I money, the after school program and the e-rate, which is how much is paid for technology and internet access.

The superintendent is also concerned that, with the economy, there will be more unpaid balances in accounts.

The approved lunch prices for the coming school year have a 10-cent increase on breakfasts and 15-cent increase on lunches. Approved prices are as follows:

Paid Elementary, Middle School, High School Breakfast — $1.95

Reduced Price Breakfast — $0.30

Adult Breakfast — $2.50

Non-Reimbursable Student Breakfast — $2.50

Summer Feeding Adult Breakfast — $2.50

Paid Elementary Lunch — $3.20

Paid Middle School, High School Lunch — $3.30

Reduced Price Lunch — $0.40

Adult Lunch — $4.05

Non-Reimbursable Student Lunch — $4.05

Summer Feeding Adult Lunch — $4.05

After School Snack — $.80

The board also approved disposal of the Alpha School, which was closed in 2012. Board President Tom Menke noted the board had a proposal for the sale of the sale, written up by Matt Watson.

Superintendent Meyer spoke to Watson, and it was decided that there either needed to be a proposal for closed bids on the property or an auction. Upon further discussion, it was decided an auction would be best with a minimum of $50,000. If the minimum is not met, the district will hold on to the building for a while longer. No date has been set for the auction.

As to the property inside the building, Meyer noted anything people want could be auctioned. Anything left inside will stay with the building, which is being sold “as is.”

Bids were presented to the board for two dishwashers, one from Buller Fixture for $38,611, the other from Midwest Restaurant Supply for $18,269. It was noted at the meeting that the dishwashers in each bid were similar, and the bid from Midwest was approved. However, with the difference in price the board is looking into getting four dishwashers — one for each school — rather than replacing two this year and two next year.

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