BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Each Greene County school may now conduct at least one "armed intruder" drill per school year, following a recommendation by the Greene County School System's Policy Committee on Tuesday.
The committee, formed of administrators, principals and representatives of the Board of Education, typically meets to update policies based on Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) recommendations and state law.
The committee made several such recommendations on Tuesday, most of which were also for minor wording changes.
However, the TSBA recommendation to make changes to the Emergency Preparedness Plan policy prompted some discussion.
The changes would add to the policy the requirement of a procedure for armed intruder(s) and remove the requirement of a procedure for "nuclear" threats.
The number of drills required would not change. The system currently requires each principal to implement one fire drill a month, with an additional fire drill within the first 30 days of the school year.
Moreover, each school must also conduct three safety drills each school year, such as for inclement weather.
The committee's recommendation to the Board of Education would alter this requirement to specify that one of these three drills must be in regard to an armed intruder.
"We need to look at how we drill," Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk also noted.
She said routine drills with no changes or "unexpected" scenarios to make students and staff think about how to react for their own safety are not much help.
"You make decisions as you go," she later added. You can't plan what's going to happen to you."
The committee also addressed recommendations made by board member Deborah Johnson related to the School Board Records policy.
Johnson requested at the board's January meeting changes that would specify cost for copies and what may be a "reasonable time" for the system to provide public access to those records.
Kirk reported Tuesday that she has contacted the TSBA since that meeting and received the recommendation not to make such alterations in order to avoid "tying the hands" of the system.
She noted that some requests can be filled quickly while others take hours of research and may even require staff to work overtime.
Board chairman Roger Jones also noted that state law already limits the amount that the system can charge for copies.
'BE MORE OPEN'
"I would like to see our system be more open to the community," Johnson said in reply, and in explanation for her recommendations.
She noted that some such requests that she said she has made have been made to seem cumbersome by staff, with delays in a response.
Some constituents have also reported that they have made such requests and never received the information, she added.
"I'm not aware of anything that's been requested of me that I haven't tried to provide," Kirk said.
Jones also requested the names of individuals who have made such claims, saying that he wants to ensure such instances never take place.
"I would be amazed if it's ever happened," he added.
The committee did vote, however, to recommend to the board acceptance of the Records Request form Johnson proposed as an addition to the system's Procedural Manual, pending review by the TSBA.