Watertown schools opening with updated safety plan
WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown’s school board will hear what the public thinks of its new safety plan and will consider giving teachers more money if they become a substitute during the day.
The parking lot is full at the Watertown City School District as teachers and staff prepare for kids to return later this week.
But when the kids walk in the doors, there are some new safety measures that are implemented, part of the district’s updated safety plan. A plan Board Member Milly Smith says needed updating.
“We have several buildings with several leaders in them and unless we have something uniform that we can fall back on, then there’s chaos,” she said.
Alarms have been installed in all doors that lead to an exterior exit at school buildings.
Superintendent Dr. Larry Schmiegel says it will notify a facilities director that a door has been opened, giving them swift knowledge of any entry point that may be unlocked.
The school district has also implemented a new eHall Pass system at the high school and Case Middle School which will help to maintain an accurate count of how many students are out of the classroom at one time and where they are.
There is also a tip line to report suspicious activity as well as silent panic alarms and Narcan kits in every building. Schmiegel says Narcan kits are only a precaution.
Smith was elected to the Board of Education earlier this year but before holding her seat, she was vocal at many board meetings asking for many of these precautions to be put in place.
“In essence, the entire thing is completely revised and it is definitely up to par with what my expectations are,” she said.
Following Tuesday’s public hearing, the goal is to adopt the plan at the Board of Education’s next meeting on September 19 and then submit it to the state for final approval.
The school board will also discuss a memorandum of agreement with its teacher union to allow teachers to be paid a stipend if they cover a class during a period when they aren’t teaching.
The teachers would get paid $35 for each period worked. A shortage of substitutes is one of the main reasons for the agreement.
We reached out to Watertown Education Association President Kevin Todd for comment but he says can not speak to issues that are district-based without approval of the superintendent.
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