Superintendent James Williams at the Vernon Parish School Board (VPSB) meeting this morning made it known that student safety is at the top of his priorities.
We're at a time in society that I didn't think we'd ever see," Williams said as he addressed the board. "Times are changing and we're going to have to have some serious talks about some of the upgrades we my have to do physically at our schools to make them more secure."
Williams said all VPSB schools have a crisis management plan in place. But because of a recent school shooting in Florida the plans are under review for improvements.
"We just have to be prepared," Williams said. "It can happen in New York City and it can happen in Pitkin, Louisiana."
In an effort to be better prepared Williams has solicited the help of the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office (VPSO) to evaluate the crisis plans for each school and make recommendations to improve school safety.
Director of Vernon Parish Homeland Security Kenneth Moore and Director of School Resource Officers Sammy Edwards, who are both employed by the VPSO, have been visiting schools throughout the parish at the request of the VPSB.
Both Edwards and Moore were present at today's meeting and shared some of their findings with the board.
One of the recommendations made by Edwards is that cameras be placed in the schools to provide coverage of the entire campus.
"One of the things that kind of sticks out to me is the kind of camera systems we have," he said.
Edwards said that the camera systems should be able to provide a live feed to the VPSO and the VPSB. This will allow the school to be monitored should they ever go into a lockdown due to an intruder.
Upon hearing this recommendation Williams said it is the goal of the VPSB to have cameras in all of the schools to will allow monitoring by the VPSO and the VPSB.
Moore pointed to the need to upgrade fences at some of the schools when he addressed the board.
"The fencing that's around the schools now are four-foot fences usually, they're designed to keep a little fella in, not to keep a grown person out," Moore said.
Moore said the crisis plans VPSB currently have in place are already good. And for the most part they need only minor improvements to make them better.
Williams thanked the VPSO for their involvement and said that the Leesville City Police will be helping with the schools within the city limits.
In other business, Technology Director Bill Lohman updated the board on changes to the phone system that will result in saving the VPSB $400,000.
The next meeting school board will begin at 10 a.m. on March 13.