Board of Education President Laura Slack and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvarez began the meeting by extending sympathies on behalf of the district to the families, staff members and residents of Newtown, Connecticut, following the terrible tragedy that took place in December.
Dr. Alvarez acknowledged that this is a difficult time for the entire country and school districts have been prompted to carefully review their security and emergency management measures. He explained that RCSD has a plan in place, which was developed in 2008 and is revisited periodically. Schools practice emergency drills on a regular basis and staff members are knowledgeable in this area. Since the Newtown incident and the news in Mamaroneck earlier this month, Dr. Alvarez has met with staff and Board members, police officials, and others in the community to determine the best actions to take. An internal audit has been conducted to look at building security including locks, public address systems, security personnel and other safety aspects.
Dr. Alvarez noted that the district has already taken some measures and provided three specific recommendations to the Board:
1. Creating advocacy through support of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents' Call for Action. The Board approved a resolution requesting legislation reform with regard to a ban on assault weapons and increasing acess to mental health care services for schools.
2. Increasing security at the elementary school level. The Board approved a contract amendment increase with NJB Security Services, Inc. Security guards are already placed at the MS/HS and will now be added at the elementary level.
3. Hiring a consulting firm to work with the district in re-examining the current plan to see what can/should be done differently and to evaluate drills and work with staff. The Board approved a proposal for emergency management planning consulting services from Stonegate Associates.