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UPDATE: Floyd BOE discusses possible measures to strengthen school safety

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Floyd County Board of Education

Floyd County Schools administrators reviewed the current status of safety protocols in place at schools while board members expressed ways to strengthen security during a called board meeting Tuesday morning. 

No decisions were made as the system will continue to pull in feedback from staff, parents and community members on how to improve school safety in the wake of a deadly shooting last week at high school in Parkland, Florida. Further research will be conducted on potentially adding additional security at each school - in the form of police officers, possibly bringing some out of retirement - and allowing select educators to handle firearms in schools in the event of an active-shooter situation. 
 
Members of the Floyd County Sheriff's Office and Floyd County Police Department were at the meeting and were open to collaborating with the school system on school safety. 
 
Previously posted

On Thursday morning, a day after a deadly school shooting at a Florida high school, Jay Shell watched his wife and two kids leave the driveway. He had a bothersome thought at that moment, thinking of a father who gave his daughter a kiss, maybe a Valentine’s Day card, as she headed out for school, not knowing she would never come home again.

From that thought, the Floyd County Board of Education member ruminated on the need to get a conversation started on how to take a proactive approach in preventing a shooting like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. He asked Board Chairman Chip Hood to add the topic of school safety to the agenda of this morning’s called board meeting, starting at 7 a.m. in the boardroom at 600 Riverside Parkway.

Shell said Wednesday’s shooting, which killed 17 people, has seemed to fuel a call for change more than previous shootings have. So, on Saturday, Shell posted to Facebook suggestions on how Floyd County Schools could implement protective measures concerning school safety.

“I was a father making a Facebook post asking for feedback,” Shell said, adding that the top priority is protecting children. “What can we do to prevent this from happening in Floyd County or Rome or any school in the nation.”

Hiring around 15 police officers — who could be brought on from retirement — to be on duty at each school in the system was his first suggestion. Another thought was to train educators to handle firearms. His initial thought on the latter was to select at least five volunteers at each school — specifically having one in each wing — to undergo firearms training and psychiatric evaluations. He did not envision these select individuals openly carrying, but rather having firearms stored in a safe place in which they could quickly access during an active shooter situation.

Shell said his proposals certainly are not final, but as a father and board member they are meant to stimulate a conversation and open the door to input — which has abounded in the days since the post, in both support and opposition — on the topic of school safety. Having more counselors and social workers on staff to “steer (students) on a positive path” is a preventative measure he’d like to see as well.

The board is not expected to make any final decision this morning but will look to assess the current safety measures in place at schools and see in which ways they could be strengthened, Superintendent John Jackson said.

Prior to going into executive session to discuss personnel and property, the board will be presented with personnel changes, including the retirement of Alto Park Elementary Principal Angela Brock, to approve. Jackson said the hope is to recommend a final candidate to replace Brock at the March 6 meeting.

The board will also be presented with a bid from Carroll Daniel Construction Co. to handle the expansion of the Model High football press box.