Board hires teacher, makes safety recommendations

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At the Nov. 8 Regional School Unit 73 school board meeting, an update was given by the safety committee. Jay Police Chief Richard E. Caton IV noted that calls for assistance at the schools have increased in the last two years. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

LIVERMORE FALLS — At the November 8 Regional School Unit 73 board meeting, directors received an update on the district’s safety committee and hired a Kindergarten teacher.

Ashley Morneault was hired as a Kindergarten teacher for the Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore.

Between June and September 13, Kindergarten enrollment had increased by 30 students. An extra Kindergarten class was added at SMPS to address the increase. A long-term substitute teacher was hired to teach that class pending the hiring of another teacher.

Board members made several suggestions after they received a report from the safety committee and the safety plan they have developed should a lockdown be needed.

Chairman Denise Rodzen said the district will take care of the kids first in an emergency.

Director Tammy Frost said parents need to be educated on what to do should a lockdown occur.

Rodzen suggested putting together a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for parents.

“At one point the Jay school system considered putting a resource officer in. It was shut down. Parents with kids will support it. Those without kids won’t. They think teaching reading, writing and arithmetic is what we should do,” she said.

Superintendent Todd LeRoy said the chances of the community approving a resource officer would be a tough sell, given the challenge now of getting a budget approved.

A recap of the safety committee report follows.

Karen Barnes and Ken Vining co-chair the Safety Committee. Barnes is a social worker at SMHS. Vining is the district’s facility and transportation director. Jay Police Chief Richard E. Caton IV serves on the committee and was also present to give input on the update.

Barnes said the district realized in 2015 that it lacked a safety committee and needed one. Following the consolidation of the Jay schools and School Administrative District 36, every building had a different emergency plan.

She said representatives from area police, fire, emergency management and ambulance services in Franklin and Androscoggin Counties worked to develop a plan for the district.

A 150-page document was created but Barnes realized no one would want to read it.

Vining said the plan covers any disaster that could be expected.

“It was a blessing to see the police department and others get involved. We got a lot of feedback,” he said.

Vining said defibrillators have been installed in each district building. Nurse Jackie Kilbreth held trainings on their use and one called Stop the Bleed.

He said parts of the plan have been implemented over the last year. Lockdown drills have been practiced in the schools.

“A lot of trainings are needed,” Vining said.

The safety committee gave a report at the Nov. 8 RSU 73 school board meeting. Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Julie Taylor said lockdown drills at the school have led to conversations with students on what to do in an actual emergency. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

“Every building has an evacuation plan,” Barnes said.

She said the district is using a system started in the workplace: Avoid, Deny, Defense.

“Avoid the situation if possible. Deny entry. Defend last. We make it very clear. If someone is not comfortable, don’t fight,” Barnes said.

She said identifying vulnerability in the schools is important.

“We need to figure out which kids are hurting and how to help them. The goal is to find something that will work. There’s no systematic way to assess every threat,” Barnes said.

She said there have been 21 calls for assistance this school year. There were 31 last year.

Caton said the number of calls has gone up in the last two years.

“We’re the first ones called. Jay responds to any complaints in the schools. An attacker is looking for the most to harm. If no one there, he’ll leave,” Caton said.

Barnes said the lockdown drills bring mistakes out during practice rather than in real life.

Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Julie Taylor said the drills have helped.

“I’m having conversations now with the kids. They’re talking with us about what they should do. The students are serious about it. It’s their safety,” she said.

pharnden@sunmediagroup.net