KINDERHOOK—Ichabod Crane Schools Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow announced to the Board of Education June 7 that she was recommending the campus be closed to the public during school hours due to the recent concerns with violence in schools.
She said that the suggestion to close the campus came out of the county safe schools meetings and that other school districts have already done the same thing.
Superintendent Guntlow told the board at its regular meeting that she was saddened to make the recommendation and did not take this step “lightly.” But she also said that the administrative team was in agreement with the new policy, which would take effect next year.
It would not apply to members of the public invited to the district or normal parent pick-up at the school buildings but the campus would be closed to outside visitors between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. She said currently the district allows the public to use the track and the tennis courts during the school day if students are not using them.
She said the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, “shined a brighter light on school safety.”
She also announced that after years of working with Questar III for the district’s health and safety plans, the board would be signing a contract with a new company, Needham Risk Management Resource Group LLC. Ms. Guntlow told the board that after the retirement of the health and safety representative at Questar, the district decided to look for a new company that would bring “a new set of eyes” to the safety concerns.
According to their website (www.theneedhamgroup.com), Needham was established in 2003 “and our highly experienced and competent staff have over 20 years experience providing safety, health, environmental, industrial hygiene and risk management services to a wide range of public and private sector employers.”
During her comments on school safety, Ms. Guntlow also said the district works closely with the County Sheriff’s Office and State Police. She said the district and the Sheriff’s Office are committed to maintaining the SRD (School Resource Deputy) in the schools and will work toward having a consistent presence. She said that in March the sheriff’s office notified the district that due to staffing they would not have the same deputy at the school everyday but Ms. Guntlow said they are planning to have one SRD assigned to the district next year. “They were short staffed,” she said of the issue during this school year.
‘We feel very well supported by our local police.’
Schools Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow
Ichabod Crane Central School District
She also praised the state troopers who she said often visit the school buildings. She and High School Principal Craig Shull talked about the recent lockdown at the school due to a post on social media. Ms. Guntlow said, “There had to be 40 police officers here within minutes.” And that after the lockdown, the administration met with Questar and with the police for a “debrief.”
“We feel very well supported by our local police,” she said.
Board members did not voice any concerns about closing the campus. Board President Matthew Nelson did ask about the issue during the summer when there will be programs with students during the day. Ms. Guntlow said, “The question is where do you draw the line?” She suggested it would be a topic to discuss with Needham.
Also at the meeting:
•The board heard a report on the ongoing capital improvement project at the district. The new tech wing in the high school is almost complete and the middle school gym is also moving along. The plan now includes bleachers for 1,001 people at the multipurpose sport field, which was part of the contingency plan. The project is still on budget, according to the representative from Turner Construction who spoke at the meeting
•The board approved a new reading program for kindergarten through 3rd grades. A group of teachers presented the new program, Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA), and talked about seeing the program in use at the Hudson City School District
•The board honored departing board member Jeffrey Ouellette, who did not run for reelection, and acknowledged newly elected board member Meghan Lafferty-Brown, who will take a seat on the board July 1. The board also acknowledged the two student representatives on the board Daniel Chen and Lillian Gould who were both at the meeting.
•The board also acknowledged retiring staff members: Jean Barford, high school teaching assistant; Robin Sullivan, high school teaching assistant; Jean Calvin, special education; Gail Colton, middle school teaching assistant; Dale Tuczinski, middle school counselor; and Marianne Noll, special education. Ms. Guntlow thanked them all and said it will be hard to replace them.
Information about board meetings is at www.ichabodcrane.org
The next board meeting will be the organizational meeting July 12 at 7 p.m.