Bellbrook Board of Education met for the first time since the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. The nightmare began after Adam Lanza, 20, broke into the school at approximately 9:46 a.m.; 16 minutes after the school’s doors were locked, as part of their renewed security measure. Lanza concluded his rampage by fatally shooting 20 first graders, six staff members, then committing suicide. The event left the nation stunned. Petrified for the safety of all children, in every school in the nation, citizens from all over country questioned the safety of schools. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has been deemed the second deadliest school shooting in the United States history.
Naturally, Bellbrook parents are concerned about the safety of their children and grandchildren and raised the issue of safety.
Terri Blanken, grandmother of a first grader at Stephen Bell Elementary school said, “I know that there have been measures taken at Stephen Bell that have made me feel very reassured when I walked it but I know how impossible it is to keep the students safe in the building.”
Blanken went on to say that she had noticed new changes that had already been put into practice, “ A new measure was that I had to be let in through a corridor, that was a new process this week and I was really impressed with that and then the door was locked to my grandson’s classroom.” She inquired if the board was going to open discussion up for the parents and grandparents to listen and answer questions regarding concerns.
Dr. Keith St. Pierre responded by indicating that, “the police department is currently present at the schools and will continue throughout the remainder of the school year.”
The board is currently reviewing terms of a contract with the police department contract, but it had not been official signed as of Thursday night. In case of a lock down, the doors to the classrooms are now automatically locked from the inside, to avoid having to lock them with keys. This extra step will ensure the doors are locked immediately.
When pressed about the police presence, Dr. St Pierre said he is not able to get into the police plan and detail their involvement but, “their presence will be more than just being in the parking lots.” He continued by stating, “We are not going to publicize our plan because then it will no longer be a secured plan. They are not able to be everywhere at once and you will not see them all the time, but they will be there.”
“We want our students to be safe, comfortable and ready to be educated. That is our goal,” Dr. St. Pierre concluded.
“All of us on the board are parents or grandparents and I know that when we renovated all our buildings, we increased security. We have been working on this for years and we will continue working on it. The children here are our children and we want them all to be safe,” Mary Frantz added.
For questions or concerns regarding the safety of the children or other security issues, contact the Safety Committee, which involve parents in the community.
The BOE also appointed Mary Frantz as the new President and Dennis Eck as Vice-President of the board.