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District looks at grants to upgrade security

  • Mascenic School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson and Superintendent Stephen Russell discuss applying for infrastructure grants for school safety during a Tuesday meeting. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Mascenic School Board discussed applying for infrastructure grants for school safety during its meeting on Tuesday. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 5:55PM

Mascenic will be applying for state funds to update an existing safety feature at its schools, as well as looking at a long-range view of its physical safety measures.

During a School Board meeting on Tuesday, the board discussed a recently discovered issue – the company which provides the software COPsync, which allows the local police to do things like access the school’s security cameras in cases of emergency, has filed for bankruptcy.

Technology Director Matt Ballou told the board that the system, for now, is still operating, and he is looking at alternatives that provide similar functions. Originally, he said, the system was paid for in part by a grant.

Superintendent Stephen Russell suggested that the district look into state funding from the newly created Public School Infrastructure Fund. The state fund has $18.7 million available to public schools to address infrastructure, including increasing internet capabilities, addressing life and safety deficiencies, and for security upgrades.

The board approved the superintendent pursuing any funds available through the state to offset the cost of that new system, and also discussed other potential safety improvements to the school, and whether it would be appropriate to pursue funds for those as well. Among the measures mentioned were a security door for Boynton Middle School, blinds for classroom hallway doors, and a ballistic resistant film for school windows. 

Russell told the board that the school currently hadn’t budgeted for such measures, and that the way the state funding work required the district to front the cost and later be reimbursed 80 percent of the cost. However, he said, the district could look at additional safety measures and what might be done with excess funds at the end of the year.

Russell also told the board that the district’s safety committee would be meeting on Wednesday (yesterday) and that both the COPsync system and safety improvements would be among items for discussion. 

 

Other School Board news 

The board reviewed the current and year upcoming calendar. Russell informed the board that the district has used  its allotted five snow days, and any additional days off  would extend the current school year. Currently, the last day of school is June 7. 

The board also discussed the first day of school for the 2018-19 school year. Russell told the board that after receiving parent feedback about wanting a staggered start to the year, he was proposing that school begin on Aug. 28, for a three-day week, followed by a four-day week, before entering a full schedule. The board agreed with the plan. 

The board also appointed School Board member School Board member Tom Falter, Business Administrator Beth Baker and Russell to a sub-committee to review staff medical insurance and produce a report of recommended changes, as required by the teacher contract. The committee will also include representatives from the teacher’s union.