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March 17, 2018

2/22/2018 1:53:00 PM
RHS informing students, reviewing safety measures
Recent events have Robinson Unit 2 officials reviewing safety and security measures.

The most-recent school shooting in Florida prompted discussion during Tuesday's school board meeting at Robinson High School.

"Some of the things we do are easy to see," such as the locks that require visitors to schools to be buzzed in by office staff, Superintendent Josh Quick said.

Less noticeable but of equal importance is threat assessment efforts. Staff members have protocols to follow to determine if a situation could escalate into something dangerous. They use them on a regular basis - as recently as last week at Nuttall Middle School.

The recent Florida tragedy "seems to have hit students here harder than any other," RHS principal Victoria McDonald said.

As a result, a video presentation is being prepared to inform students what is being done and what they can do to help keep the school safe. The goal is to show it during activity period today or by the end of the week.

A safety and security committee is scheduled to meet to review safeguards at 4:15 p.m. Monday, Quick said. The goal is to assess procedures and determine if there are any gaps. The group will then seek input from staff and law enforcement.

"We have great support from our local police force," board President Dennis Inboden said.

For example, the Robinson Police Department provides a school resource officer to the district. NMS principal Craig Beals said his assistance is "invaluable" in working toward a safe school environment.

On behalf of the teachers, Janna Surrells thanked the board for what has been done to make local schools safe and secure over the years. She said the teachers stand willing to help and support future efforts.

Also Tuesday, board members authorized Quick to move ahead with a joint venture with the county's other school districts and the three in Clark County to seek a birth-to-three prevention initiative grant from the state.

Both Hutsonville Unit 1 and Unit 2 have offered programs funded through birth-to-thee grants for several years. Under the grants, the schools have worked with parents of preschoolers to help them better prepare their young children for school.

This year, the state is requiring all recipients to re-apply and has increased the requirements for their programs. For example, a district must now have five staff members working on its program.

This would be a drastic increase in the cost. Robinson's expenses alone would increase from about $60,000 to an estimated $300,000. Plus, it is unlikely two small districts within a single county would both be able to qualify.

It was decided that Hutsonville and Robinson should submit a joint application. And because the districts have previously assisted Palestine Unit 3 and Oblong Unit 4 parents, too, those districts were also invited to participate.

Marshall, Martinsville and Casey-Westfield have also joined in hopes of improving chances of getting the grant again.

Lincoln Elementary School physical education teacher Kirk Rardin presented a report on the afterschool hockey program at the school.

When the program started four years ago, there was concern there would not be sufficient interest. These worries were unfounded; enough students signed up to field 12 teams. That increased to 14 the second year and 16 this year and last. The schedule - 96 games over 32 days, can not accommodate more.

This year, 190 students - or 57 percent of the enrollment - participated. In all, 699 students have played in four years.

There is no cost to participate as the school provides the equipment.

"All parents have to supply is a ride home," Rardin said.

The season ends Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The triumphs of various RHS students were also detailed.

Julie Gallion finished sixth in the statewide VFW Voice of Democracy speech contest, while the school's WYSE team won its third regional in a row.

Five RHS wrestlers advanced to sectionals and one of them, Alex Herman, has been named to the Illinois High School Association all-academic team.

The school also recently gathered 4,800 canned goods in a drive and will host the upcoming boys basketball and scholastic bowl sectionals.

The board approved offering bus 52 for sale "as is." The old bus is leaking coolant and is being replaced. Board members also agreed to sell other surplus items stored at the former central office building on South Jackson.

In a related matter, Quick told the board he hopes to present something stating the district's intentions for the South Jackson building at the March meeting.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the proposed 2018-19 school calendar.

• Transferred money from the Education Fund to the Debt Fund.

• Learned that moisture monitoring of the RHS gymnasium floor is continuing.

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