By JOHN BADEN
Record Herald Writer
Courtesy of the Record Herald; Printed 2.8.13
WEST MILTON – With horrific school shootings happening across the country, West Milton is looking to do whatever it can to guarantee the safety of its community.
Municipal Manager Matt Kline is interested in doing a tabletop exercise in the summer for a school shooting “in worst case scenario” so authorities and school administrators can react and learn what their responsibilities are.
“It’s not going to be like the real thing, and hopefully it will never have to be,” Kline said during a joint meeting Jan. 31 between West Milton Council and the Milton-Union Board of Education. “I think it would behoove us to practice, just to be able to say, ‘These are things we made a mistake on in our practice, and if anything ever happened, we would be better prepared.’”
Milton-Union Superintendent Dr. Ginny Rammel said that the school has secure measures in place to look out for their students such as security cameras, an armed resource officer and a staff member who greets students every morning.
“You keep an eye out on anything that’s strange,” Rammel said.
Rammel said that the school also has lockdown procedures planned and secured entrances that require visitors, even parents who are picking up or dropping off their children, to press the call button and tell the secretary why they are there in order to enter the building.
Rammel said that they’re not trying to scare kids and encourages parental communication.
“Talk to your kids about it because it’s not a scare tactic,” Rammel said. “It’s something unfortunately we have to do anymore.”
While similar to the school’s role, West Milton Police Chief Garry Kimpel recognizes that his part in this matter goes the next step.
“Your role is protection, and you want to protect as many as you can and account for as many as you can,” Kimpel said. “My role is to respond, identify a threat and eliminate the threat.”
Milton-Union Schools will put a renewal levy on the ballot in May. The five-year, 10.9-mill levy would generate more than $1 million for the school district. Since it is a renewal, no additional taxes would result from this levy. The school will use the money raised for operating expenses, salaries, benefits, maintenance and transportation costs.
Rammel said that the school will spend time planning how to be more effective over the next couple months in getting the word out on how the money is being used.
“We will have more signs up,” Rammel said. “We will do more community meetings.”
According to Rammel, the school has been cut over $1 million in state funding in the last three years. Rammel said that the school has made cuts to salaries and benefits to combat this loss of funding, but still face challenges in meeting the finances of special education.
“Our special ed costs to educate a special ed student have grown immensely,” Rammel said.
As a result, these increasing costs, which go toward occupational and physical therapy, have basically matched the amount in salary cuts the school district has made.
She said the main reason why Milton-Union is renewing the levy, which was first passed in 2002, is to optimize the strength, endurance and growth of its community.
“If we aren’t going to have strong schools, we’re not going to have a strong community,” Rammel said.