School safety was one of the major topics discussed at last week’s Bell County School Board meeting.

Director of Pupil Personnel Chris Warren reported to the board on a series of safety inspections and lockdown drills he had gone with Lt. Danny Caudill, the Safe Schools Coordinator for KSP Post 10.

“We’ve been to every school in the district and in fact the state security marshal came to Bell High with us last Thursday (Dec. 12),” Warren said. “Our staff and our students are doing everything they’re supposed to be doing, but we have some physical issues with some technology that is either there but not working or needs to be upgraded.”

Among the findings is that the intercom systems at several schools are not compatible with the current phone systems.  At Bell High and Right Fork the intercom systems just need to be programmed while Bell Central, Yellow Creek and Frakes may need to have upgrades made to their systems.

Also it was highly recommended that the window tint be added to the front entrances and lunch rooms at all schools so that a potential attacker wouldn’t be able to see inside.

There were also some places additional gates were recommended.

“Overall, Lt. Caudill said our staff and our students are head and shoulders above any other schools that he has seen as far as our protocols that we’re teaching,” Warren said. “Within a matter of 30 seconds after the unannounced lockdowns had been called there was not a soul around. All the doors were locked and the required blinds were over the windows.”

A follow-up inspection of the intercom system at Yellow Creek by technology coordinator David Smith revealed that part of the system were “fried” and would need to be replaced.

It was estimated that the cost for replacing the system would be between $65 and $70,000. The board approved purchasing the new system in four phases so that each individual project would be under $20,000.

Warren also told the board that some principals in the district have asked if the Raptor ID scanner system could be purchased for their schools.

Raptor is a state of the art security system that scans any state or federally issued photo ID and runs a quick background check.

“When a visitor comes to a school they have to have a photo ID. The person at the front desk can zip it in the scanner and see if the visitor is on any registered sex offender list, if there are any reports from social services or if they have lost custody of their child,” Warren explained. “Once the person is cleared, it also prints their name and picture and information on a visitor badge they can stick on their shirt.”

He said Corbin uses the Raptor system and has already caught three to five sex offenders that had entered their schools.

The cost to have Raptor installed in all seven schools in the district would be $11,200 with a yearly cost of $3,780 for maintenance and supplies after that.

“It’s another security measure to protect our kids. The person over security at Corbin said it was worth every penny,” Warren said.

The board table a vote on whether to purchase the Raptor system until next month, after they had attended the KSBA annual conference where they could learn more about it and how it is being used in other districts.

In other matters, the board voted to accept the resignation of superintendent Yvonne Gilliam effective June 30 and approved a limited work calendar that will allow her to use accumulated sick leave over the next six months. Gilliam also resigned effective in January as the secretary to the board.

The board hired Tom Gambrel to act as secretary to the board in the meantime and also appointed Jennifer Yankey to make sure they were following the correct procedures in their search for a new superintendent.

Gilliam attended a work session with the board last Monday and provided information they had requested about the search process.

“The main thing you’ve got to do is appoint a screening committee,” she said. “There is KRS law you need to follow in putting that committee together and you have to advertise the position for 30 days.”

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