As discussed at a workshop this past week, Loudon County Board of Education on Thursday approved an amendment to the district's emergency preparedness plan that adds a stipulation about drills for armed intruders.
According to the policy, each school principal is in charge of developing and carrying out emergency drills, including one fire drill per month and three additional drills during the school year. Other drills may include preparedness for inclement weather, natural disasters, “armed intruders” and other emergencies that do not require a full evacuation.
The following sentence was added to the policy: "However, at least one of these additional safety drills shall focus on the potential threat of an armed intruder(s) gaining access to the school."
The board approved the amendment to the policy with no discussion.
Director of Schools Jason Vance said at the board's workshop that he regretted having to implement the new policy.
"I hate that we've got to talk about it, but the bottom line in our society today, we need to be prepared in case something like that were to happen," Vance said.
The school board planned to discuss school security, along with other items, during an upcoming retreat in March.
"Are we going to try to develop a proposal of some kind as to what it might cost us to do some security modifications in our buildings?" board member Gary Ubben said during the workshop. "We talked about the entrances, but what about door locks? What about video systems?"
In addition to security, the school board planned to discuss the building program, paraprofessionals in the system, disaster training and superintendent evaluation, among other topics.
Board members are expected to stay at the Clarion Inn & Suites in Gatlinburg. Cost for the retreat is estimated at $5,000 for the three-day trip. Unless an issue arose, the board moved to forego its March meeting and return to its regular meetings in April.
In other business, the board: * Approved a change to the compulsory attendance policy. "Any child residing within the state who is or will be five (5) years of age on or before August 31 for the 2013-14 school year and on or before August 15 for all school years thereafter, who makes application for admission, shall be enrolled in the school designated by the Board," according to the new policy. In addition, if a child is 5 years old on or before Sept. 30, the student's parent or guardian can request the child be admitted into kindergarten. * Vance announced the following new teachers of the year: Claire Svoboda, Eaton Elementary; Chad Lewis, Fort Loudoun Middle; and Kimberly Callais, Loudon High. Experienced teachers of the year include Jessica Anderson, Greenback School; Stacey McNabb, Fort Loudoun Middle; and Robert Amburn, Loudon High. Recognized Common Core coaches were math teacher Melissa Haun and English teacher Cassie Watson, both of Loudon High.