Central School Board talks about security strategy

The Central School Board met for two hours behind closed doors Wednesday night and reviewed security measures at its five schools and heard a report from Superintendent Michael Faulk, but took no action.

The review was sparked by the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed.

“We already have some things in place,” Board President James Gardner said after the meeting.

Gardner noted that a range of security improvements have been put in place since voters approved bonds for school construction and repairs in 2009. He said the board directed Faulk to publicize those improvements, which he plans to do next week.

The meeting was a “strategic planning session,” meaning the board met but took no votes.

Faulk said he is planning to come back to the board in advance of its Jan. 28 meeting with recommendations to improve security.

“We have some issues at the high school we’re going to address,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting was called on Tuesday and took place in a meeting room at Trade Construction, 17043 Joor Road.

In holding the meeting in private, or “executive session,” the School Board cited an exemption in Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law that allows for private “discussion regarding the report, development, or course of action regarding security personnel, plans or devices.”

Afterward, Gardner said he could not talk about what was discussed.

“We are obliged by law not to say what we discuss in executive session,” Gardner said.

Faulk said afterward that he is looking at whether the school district should increase the number of East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies who patrol Central schools.

Two deputies currently patrol the schools, he said.

Faulk, however, said he opposes proposals to arm teachers with guns.

Faulk said Central had already taken steps to improve security in both the construction of the new intermediate and middle schools, which opened in August, and in remodeling work at its three other schools.

He said teachers and principals have given other ideas of ways to improve security.

Faulk said he plans to do walkthroughs of Central schools next week with a security expert, who is also the grandfather of a Central student and who offered to do a security assessment.

“There may be things that he sees that we don’t,” Faulk said.