Members of the administration at Lakeland Union High School told the LUHS Board of Education Monday night at its regular monthly meeting they will never be complacent when it comes to safety and security at the school.
Since the recent mass murders in Newtown, Conn., LUHS Principal Jim Bouché told the board the school is continuing to train students and staff on what to do during emergencies and make changes and improvements in security and safety measures.
“Shortly after the incident in Connecticut we moved the police resource officer’s office to the front of the building in the high school office area,” Bouché said.
During regular school hours the main front entrance is the only door that is unlocked to allow access into the building. With the officer’s office moved adjacent to the entrance, reaction time to anyone entering the building and causing any problems is much quicker.
“An officer from the Lac du Flambeau Police Department is also present in the building for 90 minutes a day,” Bouché said. “So there are times when we have two armed officers in the building at the same time.”
Bouché said he and staff members have also held recent meetings with the Minocqua and Lac du Flambeau police departments as well as the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department.
Bouché also said LUHS continues to conduct code red lockdown drills and other drills or exercises related to safety.
“We also completed a tabletop exercise where we went into detail about what to do when certain events happen,” Bouché said. “It was all very thorough.”
According Bouché, canine units from area police departments will also search through the school at various times.
“We continue to revamp everything we do as far as school security,” Bouché said.
All of the new measures and actions were taken after LUHS had used grant money to double the number of security cameras both inside and outside the school.
“We also have staff members walking around the building and checking, on a regular basis, doors that are supposed to be locked ...,” Bouché said. “It can happen where someone will prop open a door because they want to return through that door, but we make sure all of the doors that are supposed to be locked, remain locked.”
Trip to Germany
Board members gave their unanimous approval to the planned German Club trip in the summer of 2014 to Germany and other countries.
German Language teacher Kathleen Peterson said students are already excited about the trip and have begun fundraising efforts to pay for the costs of the adventure. The trip will be 10 days and will depart from Chicago June 16, 2014.
“Basically the trip will be the same as the students took in 2012,” Peterson said.
Whitney Hewitt, a student who took the trip in 2012 told the board just how much the trip meant to her and how it has changed her life.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the world and the histories of countries that are older than the United States,” Hewitt said. “It’s left me with priceless memories and has changed my view of the world today.”
Bouché explained that LUHS staff have already begun meeting with students from the outlying schools who will be attending the school next year.
“We’re also working with the parents of those students by having meetings over the next several weeks,” Bouché said. “In February, registration for the new school year will also begin online. A lot of work is being done with those students before they attend LUHS, more than some may realize.”
Open records requests
District Administrator Dr. Todd Kleinhans reported to the board about the costs in staff time and attorney fees in dealing with open records requests from The Lakeland Times and other sources.
“Since July 2012, the district has received 17 open records requests,” Kleinhans said. “That has also cost the district so far $17,691 in attorney’s fees alone. That’s not including the time I and other staff members have had to spend on locating the documents, redacting portions of them and making copies.”
“Some of the records requests are closely focused, while others include thousands of pages,” board President Dr. Tom Gabert said.
Kleinhans told the board LUHS finance manager Louise Fischer would attend next month’s board meeting so she and the board could discuss the upcoming school budget and answer any questions board member may have on the spending plan for the 2013-14 school year.
Kleinhans said he believes details about the state’s proposed budget for the next biennium could be released sometime around Feb. 20.
Kleinhans also presented two awards on behalf of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to LUHS board members Shari Nimsgern and Ed Schaub. The service awards were presented to the two for their continued service to children in Wisconsin and in the school district.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.