School board ponders security options

SANDPOINT — A bevy of options are available to the Lake Pend Oreille School Board when it comes to improving school security.

At the board’s meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Shawn Woodward told trustees options include partnerships with regional sheriff’s offices, contracted mental health professionals, an established team at each school to handle emergency situations.

Woodward and assistant administrator Doug Olin spent the past two weeks working with local law enforcement to address one of the more worrying school security weaknesses : long emergency response times. According to school officials, it can take law enforcement 20 minutes or more to reach distant locations like Clark Fork Junior and Senior High School.

As a result of those meetings, Woodward proposed both a long and short-term solution to the problem. For a district investment of between $8,000 and $10,000 to help pay overtime costs, local sheriff’s deputies are willing to take on additional hours that will minimize rural response times. This arrangement would last until the end of the school year, at which point school officials can begin plans for a permanent school resource officer in the district’s eastern borders.

Another promising lead is a partnership with a mental health professional, Woodward said. While professionals like counselors are commonly employed by school districts, highly-trained individuals like psychiatrists or clinical psychologists are very rarely brought in on a full-time basis. That’s why Woodward proposes contracting the services on an hourly basis. Through discussions with Kaniksu Health Services, he believes that between $15,000 and $20,000 will be sufficient to get the most at-risk students immediate mental health.

According to Woodward, there’s at least one student in every district school that could benefit from the service.

“Some probably have even five or more,” he added.

Woodward hopes to have a full agreement with some health services organization ready for consideration by Jan. 6. Out of the options on the table, this is the one that has him the most intrigued, he added.

“I’m very excited about the idea of helping these kids out right when they need us the most,” he said.

Finally, Woodward said it’s critical every local school have a team ready to respond when the need arises. These individuals would handle the planning and oversee the execution of lockdowns, evacuations, visitor screening processes and other standard procedures. This goes for emergency situations ranging from an active shooter in the building to more likely occurrences like bomb threats. Furthermore, facility and technology upgrades like an alert system in the event of a lockdown would be welcome additions, he said.

Board members agreed that collectively, these improvements could have a big impact on district security. Trustee Chairman Steve Youngdahl recommended developing the new proposals in tandem with anti-bullying programs for the best final result.

Read More News

Three blazes, zero control

August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Three large, eastern Washington ground fires that have been pushing smoke into North Idaho since Sunday remained officially uncontained Tuesday evening. Rick Isaacson, with Chelan...

Read More

Frustrations at lake bubble to surface

August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Priest River Times PRIEST LAKE — County residents launched into the county waterways board here Aug. 18 to voice their disappointment with lax law enforcement on Priest Lake. Between endless violations of no-wake...

Read More

LPOSD creates Home School Academy

August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — Families within the Lake Pend Oreille School District who choose to homeschool now have an opportunity for their children to learn in a non-traditional environment.The...

Read More

Citizens rescue eight in storm

August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee PRIEST LAKE — A Priest Lake woman and a Priest Lake Ambulance volunteer are credited with saving eight people after their boat capsized off West Twin Island during a windstorm on...

Read More