Jefferson focusing on school safety, behavior and mental health
Star Beacon - 8/17/2018
Aug. 17--JEFFERSON -- This school year, Jefferson Area administrators are looking to install new school safety measures across the district and supplement new clubs and curriculum to engage students' interests.
The district's first day of its 2018-19 school year "went smoothly," Superintendent John Montanaro said Thursday.
"We're off and running. It was very smooth," he said. "The kids are all dressed in their 'first-day-of-school' outfits -- those are the best."
Jefferson Area parents have already received or should soon receive flyers detailing the district's fundraising campaign to reimburse the cost of new door barricades, or anchors, set for installation across the district.
interest in the devices during a recent community meeting, Montanaro said. Lakeside High School and Pymatuning Valley Local Schools have already installed door barricades, he said.
The district has ordered door anchors for about 300 doorways in district buildings from Anchorman Inc. of California at about $126 each, for a total cost of about $37,900, Montanaro said.
He said the district received an $11,150 discount on the purchase for buying within 30 days of the quote and the administrators chose to recoup at least some of the funds through sponsors like local businesses or families.
The district's fundraising flyer details sponsorship levels ranging from $126, the price of one anchor, to "School Safety Sentinel" at the $1,000 level. Donors will be recognized at the school and on the district's website.
The door anchors are "impenetrable" and can be activated by foot from inside a classroom, according to the company's website. The anchors can also be released from inside the classroom or by first responders outside the classroom, using a special key provided by the company.
Montanaro added Jefferson Police Department Chief Dave Wassie approved of the anchors, among those from other vendors.
Jefferson Police Department officer Greg Korabek began temporary work Thursday as Jefferson Elementary School's dedicated school resource officer. The department has yet to assign a permanent officer to the school, Montanaro said.
This school year marks the second for Rock Creek Elementary's armed security guard, Tim Gowens, elementary Principal Chris Edison said Thursday.
"Officer Gowens has a really good relationship with our students and staff. Today, kids gave him high-fives and hugs. They were really excited to see him," he said. "He's definitely part of the family and we appreciate everything he's done."
Newly hired, dedicated case managers from Community Counseling Center stationed at each of the district's schools also began their in-school work Thursday, Montanaro said.
"They're there more as a filtering resource for students that are in need of different resources. Their focus is on mental health," he said. "If we notice a student having a bad day, so to speak, we can talk to them and see what's going on and, if they need resources, make that connection."
Rock Creek Elementary, like other district schools, are beginning to implement new behavioral supports systems aimed at reinforcing positive behaviors. A locally sponsored Ohio House bill recently signed into law appropriates funding for schools for those programs.
"We're just continuing what we've been doing and we're going to try to continue to make more improvement educationally
and socially," Edison said.
is also continuing math, science and computer science club programs for fifth-
that were started last year, "to give these kids more experience with activities before school, to get them
in the building and
try to help them find some interests," he said.
The district made seven new staffing hires this year, including two Title I tutors, two special educators, one paraprofessional and one nurse's assistant.
At Jefferson Area High School, former Pymatuning Valley educator Scott Wludyga is now heading up the school's new A-Tech-sponsored multimedia program, high school Principal Jeremy Huber said Thursday.
"We're hoping to teach students some creative skills through technology," he said. "Students can edit on software and work on communication skills.
"We're really excited about that, especially with Scott's experience and his enthusiasm, I think he's going to have a great impact on students."
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