The Rush City School Board is keeping its eyes peeled for a good fit to fill an upcoming vacancy on the board.
Meanwhile, school security remains a top issue of discussion, especially with the latest concern involving a 13-year-old student who reportedly was in possession of a “hit list.” On probation for another matter at the time, the student was placed in a secure detention facility in Lino Lakes.
In light of the board vacancy, the school board on March 21 accepted the resignation of Channa Tastsides and declared the position vacant at the conclusion of the April 18 board meeting. Tastsides, who served on the board for three and a half years, said she’s resigning due to her family moving to Cambridge where her children have been attending school.
Superintendent Vern Koepp informed the board of the options in filling the vacancy, thanks to information provided by the Minnesota School Boards Association.
With Tastsides’ term set to expire December 31, 2013, the board cannot hold a special election to fill the position. Instead, board members may nominate someone, ideally with his or her prior consent, or seek applications of those interested in serving the remainder of the term.
In addition, board elections will be held in November, and those elected at that time will begin their term in January 2014.
If board members choose to nominate a person, Koepp continued, they should consider a short time of service and issues the board will deal with — from contract negotiations to a potential operating levy next fall — during the nominating time frame.
Depending on the nomination process and timing with the oath of office, the new board member could start serving at the regular board meeting in May.
Board members once again weighed in on the issue of school security, along with the costs of implementing extra security measures, yet they also acknowledged it’s a balancing act with maintaining a healthy learning environment for students and staff.
For the rest of this school year, parents can expect the front doors at both the high school and elementary school to be remained locked with greeters stationed at the entrances. The board is thinking about letting the public decide on further safety measures through an operating levy this fall.
Last month, in an effort to keep all school visitors accounted for, the board agreed to remodel the main entry/office areas at both the high school and elementary school. Superintendent Koepp said the design will require people to enter the office to sign in before they can access the rest of the building. The remodel at the high school will cost around $35,250, and a similar project at Jacobson Elementary will cost $14,400.
The board discussed other security enhancements, as well, which could be reason for an operating levy before district voters. In light of additional building improvements and modifications, lock replacement with a deadbolt at both school buildings is an estimated $48,213 project, and changing out the locks with an intruder lock would cost $56,278.
Another proposed area is personnel, with a school resource officer working 40 hours a week for 40 weeks at a cost of $65,648. An officer at 20 hours a week over the same time frame was mentioned, as well.
Board members also have looked at an audio/video intercom system with electronic door opener for the high school main entry and receiving door ($5,241) and elementary main entry ($4,605). The estimated electrical cost is $3,000; the annual maintenance fee, about $1,080.
Meanwhile, school staff, board members and parents have continued the conversation of school safety at school board advisory meetings.
The board anticipates regularly revisiting the issue of school security in regular meetings and special study sessions to come.
In other news, the board:
• Received an update from the Jacobson Elementary PTO on its fundraising efforts for needed playground improvements at the school. To help with the effort, the Rush City Burger King is hosting a benefit night, 5 to 8 p.m. April 25. Call a PTO member or the school for the flyer needed to participate and more details. The plan is for the playground project to start and reach completion this summer.
• Accepted the resignation of Tricia Williams, paraprofessional, effective March 15.