Iberville beefing up school security

The Iberville Parish School Board on Monday unanimously approved entering into a cooperative agreement with the Sheriff’s Department to better secure the district’s 10 school campuses through the addition of four new school resource officers, a truancy officer and nine school crossing guards.

The board’s decision was driven by the December school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The agreement between the School Board and the Sheriff’s Department will increase what the district pays annually for school safety measures from $150,000 to approximately $270,000, Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said during the board’s regular meeting Monday night.

The parish school system currently has only one school resource officer, officials said Monday night.

Sheriff Brett Stassi told the board that four of the school resource officers would be assigned to particular schools while the fifth will patrol the other campuses on a floating schedule.

According to the agreement, the School Board and the Sheriff’s Department will split the costs to pay for the new certified school resource officers and crossing guards while the Sheriff’s Department will be responsible for the employment costs of the truancy officer.

The new hires will be employees of the Sheriff’s Department, the agreement states.

Stassi said he hopes to have the staff in place by the start of the new school year in the fall.

“We do wish we could have an SRO (school resource officer) at every school but funds are limited,” Stassi told the board Monday night. “We can only do so much with what we have.”

The board Monday night also was presented with a detailed school security assessment report from a private consultant the Sheriff’s Department is working with to create an individual plan for each school on how to deal with a crisis.

The consultant, Sandra Ezelle, offered the School Board a range of security measures that included posting more “Drug Free/No Weapon” signs on school campuses, stricter on-campus visitor policies and the use two-way radios.

Ezelle said she will present the school crisis plans before the end of the school year.