Schools receive additional security

The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office has assigned an additional deputy to school security duties, giving each of the parish’s four schools a full-time officer on campus, the School Board learned Tuesday.

During a briefing on security issues, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Metz said the fourth officer was stationed at Bains Lower Elementary School, which has Head Start, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students on its campus.

Sheriff Austin Daniel pays the school resource officers’ salaries from his budget at no cost to the School Board.

Metz said the Sheriff’s Office also plans to coordinate the movement of deputies on and off the campuses to have an officer on duty at all times.

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, the Sheriff’s Office is updating its emergency response plan for dealing with an “active shooter” on the campuses, all of which are near the sheriff’s U.S. 61 substation on School Board property.

The plan is tailored to the individual schools and will be implemented in conjunction with the School Board’s crisis management plans, Metz said. Some additional training is needed before the new plan is put into place, he said.

In merging the plans, many details need to be clear to both school officials and sheriff’s deputies, Metz said.

For instance, when a school is put in “lockdown” status, arriving deputies must know where employees such as custodians are supposed to be, in order to avoid mistaking them for intruders, Metz said.

Supervisor Mike Thornhill, whose responsibilities include security, outlined additional security improvements being made in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office.

Other topics covered by the board included:

PRINCIPAL HONORED: The board recognized West Feliciana Middle School Principal Ben Necaise, who recently received the Educator of the Year award from the Louisiana Association of Computer-Using Educators.

Necaise is at the “top of the ladder” for using technology to further teaching in his school and has led the school’s 1:1 computer program, in which the district furnishes a computer tablet or laptop to all middle school students and some high school classes, Supervisor Jerome Matherne said.

BUDGET ITEMS: After six months of the fiscal year, the district has received 57 percent of its anticipated revenues, while expenses have been held to 40 percent of the budgeted amount, Finance Director Ruthie Davis said.

The board also has received $87,000 more in sales taxes than it anticipated in setting this year’s budget, Davis said.