BY KIM LUTTRELL
District 118 school board members received a report Wednesday on the recent school safety simulation conducted Saturday at South View Middle School.
They also reviewed what steps the district needs to make to enhance the school safety procedures already in place.
Mark Neil, Danville High principal, told the board that about 80 district staff members took part in the simulation, which dealt with two different scenarios — including an intruder in the school.
Also participating were Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason, police command personnel and school resource officers.
Neil said the district has had school safety policy for the past 15 years and the policies and procedures are reviewed and updated yearly. Those policies and procedures also are reviewed by the police department.
Neil said the district already has put in place several security measures during the past few years, including cameras and intercoms at all entrances to school buildings as well as some 55 cameras inside DHS. Neil also said all school buildings practice safety drills regularly and each teacher is equipped with a crisis notebook that outlines in detail what steps to take.
Ron Henton, director of building and grounds, told board members that school maintenance staff are consistently reminded to keep all exterior doors locked at all times.
Henton did tell board members there are three safety improvements that have been identified that should have priority in implementing.
According to Henton, the intercom systems at some of the schools need updating to allow for better inter-school communication, that all classrooms need door locks that allow them to be locked from the inside and the exterior doors on all the school buildings need to be numbered, both on the inside and the outside.
Henton said by numbering the doors, first responders will immediately know which door to go to in order to gain immediate access to any situation. Police and fire departments will receive hard-copy floor plans of all the school buildings with these doors numbered for easy identification.
Police personnel also have been issued key fobs that will allow access to all school buildings.
Keying is another area Henton said needs to be addressed. In some buildings, three different keys are needed to access the building and classrooms.
Also Wednesday, board members received a pleasant surprise when it was announced that North Ridge Middle School has received a $4,000 grant from Lowe’s. The grant was awarded through Lowe’s Toolbox for Art program.
The students will use the grant to construct a mosaic that will be hung in the newly refurbished school.
In other board action, members:
Approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the district’s custodial staff. Under terms of the agreement, custodians will receive a 45-cent per hour raise in the first year, a 30-cent per hour increase in year two and a 20-cent per hour increase in the third year. Custodial employees also pay $10 per month toward their health insurance costs beginning in year one, which will increase to $11 in year two and going up to $12 per month in year three. This is the first time district employees have had to share in the cost of their health insurance.
Learned that Northeast Elementary Magnet School Principal Cheryl McIntire has resigned to accept a position with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Retired principal Valerie Gilbert will take over as interim principal at Northeast under a temporary contract.
Approved an intergovernmental agreement and granted a temporary easement with the city for work on the proposed green space to be located across the street from Danville High. The agreement also includes the district paying half the cost, $2,500, for a vacuum to clean the retention pond that will be part of the project.
Approved the curriculum for a new Advanced Biology class and for the Junior ROTC program, years 1-4.
Had the first reading of a proposal to increase the graduation requirements for DHS from the current 40 credits to an eventual 44 credits. The freshman class starting this fall will see its required credits increase to 42 credits, with the freshman class of 2015 see its requirement rise to 44 credits. It also is recommended that one of the four additional credits be a science credit, which would raise the requirement to three science credits needed for graduation. It is anticipated an additional science teacher would need to be employed along with additional science classes added.
Approved the purchase of property at 318 Sidell St. for $1,000 plus closing costs. There is an unoccupied house on the property, which sits across from the DHS athletic field.
District 118 school board members will meet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Jackson Administration Building.