Schools drill for shooter situations

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools hold drills that may mimic an active shooter situation or other emergency throughout the year.

The topic came up at the Feb. 27 board of education meeting after board member Katie Loudin said she was contacted by a parent who was concerned about the recent school shooting in Florida.

“I think she just wants to make sure we are keeping an eye on school safety,” she said. “I told her I thought we were. I think in the wake of what’s happened, we need to keep our eye on it.”

Superintendent Roy Wager said every school has at least one drill and some two or three. The drills are not always active shooter drills but some are weather emergencies. JH Consulting conducts the drills and gives a report at the end of the school year.

“Schools do not know when it is happening,” he said.

Board president Dr. Tammy Samples said she has seen devices that go behind a door to prevent someone from coming into a classroom and thought the school system could look at grants in the future.

Board vice president Alan Suder said, “I have been addressed with a couple concerns also. I feel the need to address those concerns somehow, if we can in an executive session. I would like to see a meeting with school principals, our PRO officers, central office and board members so we can go over my concerns in a private setting where it is not out in the public what actually is being done but so that we all know we are on the same page,” Suder said. “If we have some type of plan or some kind of itemized work order that we would like to do, I think rather it be a grant or a letter submitted, I would like to be the first on board.”

Wager said attendance director Jodie Akers would be the contact for that. Assistant superintendent Jack Reger said there was an informational meeting planned in April that board members could attend.

It was noted that for the full board to attend, it would have to be considered a meeting. Upshur County Schools will also participate in a full-scale exercise with emergency responders to happen this summer. 

Upshur County Schools will have a 2018-2019 school calendar for the board to consider at its March 27 meeting.

At the last board of education meeting, Wager conducted one of two required calendar hearings by providing a review of the calendar law.

“The original law basically said you are required to have 180 days of instruction, no matter what happens with the weather or whatever,” he said. We have followed that. The legislature last year added into the calendar law that you could accrue that time. “If in your county policy had 30 minutes or more for every school, the lowest amount we could have would be 30 minutes from one school, that you could accrue that time. In the past we used it for early dismissals or late starts, Professional Learning Communities and Faculty Senates. They changed it this year that if you had accrued time, you could not make up five snow days. They also added to that something called nontraditional instructional day.

Snow day packets are an example of this.

“We did not put that in our policy for this year but they are working on adding it to the policy for next year,” he said. “We had a lot of questions and concerns as administrators about how they would be done, how equitable they would be across the grades. We are working on that for next year. We have a few ideas we are looking at.

But for the purposes of the calendar, Upshur meets with Gilmer, Lewis and Barbour counties every year.

“Gilmer shares an elementary school with Lewis County while Barbour, Lewis and Upshur share Fred Eberle Technical Center. Gilmer and Calhoun shared a technical center but Calhoun doesn’t participate in the calendar meetings.

The calendar committees in each of the counties are now finalizing the calendars to be presented to each of the boards in those counties.

Following an executive session for the annual review of the superintendent’s evaluation, Samples read a statement that said Wager met and exceeded all expectations. “Mr. Wager continues to work with us to satisfy guidelines as well as work continuously on behalf of the students and staff of Upshur County Schools. We wish to congratulate Mr. Wager on his retirement and sincerely thank him for his dedication to the Upshur County School system. Best of luck in what endeavors come next.” 

Following a second executive session, the board voted to expel two students for one school year for  violation of state policy 4373 and county policy 4011 — Expected Behaviors in Safe and Supportive Schools.

The next meeting is today at 6 p.m. at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.

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