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School, Sheriff Examine Security At Buildings

District Office

By Jack Gurner
Reporter


WATER VALLEY – Local school officials are taking a close look at security in the wake of the Connecticut shootings.
Superintendent Kim Chrestman reported to school board trustees last Thursday that district officials met with the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Depart-ment to have them assist with a review of the district’s Crisis Management Plan.
“What chills many of us even more in the Newtown aftermath is that Sandy Hook Elementary School was about as safe as they come,” Chrestman said. “Entrances were locked every day; visitors had to be buzzed in.  But door locks and buzzers have not stopped these types of violent crimes.  Turning our schools into fortresses does not seem to solve the problem.”
He added that an observation that has been made in regards to “active shooters” in schools is that no shootings have taken place in schools that have an armed resource officer.  “Water Valley is very fortunate to have partnered with the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department to provide our school with an armed resource officer.”
That officer is Deputy Regis Mister, who has been resource officer since October of 2011. He is responsible for security and safety at the high school and at sporting events. Mister is paid by the school district for the ten months he works at the school.
The resource officer and school administrators will be working with the Sheriff’s department in the coming weeks to provide security recommendations, according to Chrestman.  

Other Activities
Also in his superintendent’s report, Chrestman congratulated WVHS senior Tyler Epes, winner of the Mississippi Future Problem Solving Program International Affiliate Bowl t-shirt contest for 2013. Her design will be featured at an upcoming state competition.
He reported that the WVHS cheerleaders had a good showing and a good show of support in the state cheer championships.  He thanked all involved for their hard work during this cheer season.
Chrestman added that January will be packed with a variety of activities at WVHS.  Classes resume on Jan. 7 and report cards will go out Jan. 10.  On Jan. 21, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be recognized with a holiday.
The full text of the superintendent’s report is online at the Herald’s website, www.yalnews.com.
Among other actions at the Dec. 20 meeting, trustees:
• Approved a request that the WVHS baseball team be allowed to play schools that are not members of the MHSAA.
• Approved an out of state trip by the challenge class to tour the Orpheum in Memphis.
• Paid claims.
• Heard a financial report from District Business Manager Randy Goodwin, who said that the fund balance in the district maintenance fund was $1,576,347.70.
The next scheduled board meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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Superintendent’s Report

By Kim Chrestman


Congratulations to Tyler Epes from Water Valley! She is the winner of the Mississippi Future Problem Solving Program International Affiliate Bowl t-shirt contest for 2013. Her design will be featured by the MSFPSI at the Affiliate Bowl (the state competition)!

The Water Valley High School Cheerleaders had a good showing and a good show of support on Saturday in the state cheer championships.  Thanks to the Ms. Craven, Ms. Harris, the girls and especially the parents for all the hard work during this cheer season.

January will be packed with a variety of activities at WVHS.  Classes resume on January 7th and report cards will go home in the district on the 10th.  All will recognize Martin Luther King, JR. with a holiday on the 21st.

Legislative update:  Last week, at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees, members heard presentations on several important school initiatives.

Charter School Bill
Committee members were presented with a description of a charter school bill being proposed by Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison. The bill, as presented, contains some worrisome provisions. Similar provisions (see below) have contributed to a disproportionate number of charter school failures in other states.  Chairman Tollison stressed that the bill, as presented, was still in draft form. House Education Chairman John Moore stated that the House is also working on a charter school bill.
Provisions:
•    Allows any student to attend a charter school and to cross district lines to do so.
•    Provides adequate funding for charter schools, which is important in order to enable charter school success (but under funds public education).
•    Sends local funding across county lines.
•    Allows charter schools in school districts rated D and F and in C-rated districts after June of 2016. Requires local school board approval to establish a charter school in a district rated A, B, or C through June of 2016 and in A and B districts from July 2016 forward. This provision makes local boards vulnerable.
•    Provides for an opt-in lottery system for student selection when applications exceed slots available.
•    Does not require a track record of school success for a charter to be granted, though it does provide that some applicants must include track record information in the application material.
•    Allows virtual charter schools.
•    Requires that charter schools be non-profit, but allows a charter to be run by a for-profit management organization. This is how for-profit charter schools use this loophole to gain access to public school funding.
•    Creates an authorizing board made up of political appointees and allows for the removal of board members by those making the appointments.
•    The public charter school functions as a local education agency (a school district).
Literacy Initiative
Legislative members are hearing about Florida’s intensive reading initiative, which has been the primary reason for that state’s impressive advances in student achievement. Recently, Florida’s fourth graders tied for first place with countries like Singapore and Finland on an international reading assessment.  Legislative committee members were told that “retention alone will not work,” and that Florida’s success lies in the interventions, training, and other literacy supports included in the state’s plan. Critical to that success is funding – Florida’s literacy program was not an unfunded mandate. Schools were provided funding to successfully implement the interventions.
Legislative Budget Recommendation
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (LBC) has announced its budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2014, the upcoming budget year. The committee recommended no increases for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) over the current year. If this level of funding were to be adopted, it would fund schools at a level that is over $300-million below what state law says is adequate to run a “C” rated school. The LBC Budget is only a budget recommendation; it is considered the baseline from which budget negotiations will begin. The full Legislature will debate and decide the final budget after they convene the 2013 Legislative Session in January.

School security — we’re all focused on it this week after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  What chills many of us even more in the Newtown aftermath is that Sandy Hook Elementary School was about as safe as they come. Entrances were locked every day; visitors had to be buzzed in.  But door locks and buzzers have not stopped these types of violent crimes.  Turning our schools into fortresses does not seem to solve the problem.

One observation that has been made in regards to “active shooters” in schools is that no shootings have taken place in schools that have an “armed” resource officer.  Water Valley is very fortunate to have partnered with the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department to provide our school with an “armed” resource officer.  For this service, Water Valley School District is very thankful.

Water Valley School District has met with the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department and has asked them to assist the district in a review of the districts’ Crisis Management Plan.  Officer Mister and school administrators will be working with the Sheriff’s department in the coming weeks to provide recommendations.

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