Marion Police Chief John Garcia is working more closely with Sippican School Principal Lyn Rivet and school staff on reinforcing security at the school, which Rivet detailed for the Marion School Committee on Wednesday, February 28.
The school has already implemented a stricter policy for visitors to the school, requiring them to present identification before being permitted access. For larger events, the school will continue to require visitors to RSVP and provide IDs upon entry. Visitors may not enter with pocketbooks, bags, or backpacks, and anyone dropping off bags of school supplies will be instructed to leave them with administration at the main office for pick up.
All Tri-Town school districts are implementing School-Check-In to scan the licenses and identifications of visitors, and a stick-on tag will be printed for visitors to display while inside the buildings.
Rivet said she met with Chief Garcia that day, as well as the Tuesday prior when she said she “bounced ideas off” the chief to yield new ways of integrating a police presence within the school with a visibility that is positive for the students.
“I appreciated his openness,” Rivet said. “And as an immediate extending of new collaboration, parents and children can expect to have a lot more visibility in the building at lunch times and at recess times.”
The chief, Rivet said, “…Wants to be part of the school.”
“He expects to see [the officers] playing games with the children at recess,” said Rivet, “so families can look forward to that. I think that will be a wonderful visibility.”
Superintendent Doug White said he has met with Rivet recently at school about playground safety and security and how to manage that space more effectively. White said he would be returning to the committee later with further details on security strategies during a future executive session.
“On Friday, all schools discussed current strategies dealing with a person who may get into our building or someone who doesn’t belong there … or an active shooter,” White said. “There’s more to be done by all of us to make sure that we’re all on the same page, so we’re working towards making sure that all of our schools are safe.”
Furthermore, said White, Garcia is working towards providing “assurance of safety of all our buildings.”
White added that parents who may be concerned about their children, including behavioral concerns, should contact the principal, the school psychologist, or even the school nurse.
“Thank you for all the work that you’ve been doing … to make sure that this continues to be a wonderful and safe place to come to school every day,” School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini said.
In budget news, just ahead of meeting with the Marion Finance Committee later that evening, School Business Administrator Patrick Spencer told the committee they would be presenting FinCom with a fiscal year 2019 budget of $6,058,000 – an increase of $129,000 or 2.09% from the FY18 budget of $5,929,000.
The main thrusts of the FY19 budget, as Spencer put it, are the areas of social/emotional development and technology – “Two areas that we’re trying to move forward,” said Spencer. This part of the budget includes adding .4 to the integrated teaching position, plus another .2 to the physical education position “to enhance the health program and well-round the physical education program.”
“This will also help to ensure that the children are getting the response to intervention that they need,” said Rivet. “Children will also be getting the academic services that they need … instead of missing a trimester.” Some students, said Rivet, are not receiving health education because they are receiving other needed services during that time.
The district is also responsible for funding the Bristol County Agricultural High School tuition for students who attend from outside that school’s district. The district is budgeting for three students to attend Bristol Aggie next year, although that number could go up or down. The rest of the increases fall under staff contractual agreements.
“The budget is a really good one,” said Marcolini. “I think it’s solid and it’s what we need at this point.”
The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for April 11 at 6:30 pm at Sippican School.
Marion School Committee
By Jean Perry