Safety report shows minimal issues at Roy G. Eversole

Amelia Holliday — Staff Reporter

December 13, 2013

HAZARD—Playground supervision, staff identification, and visitor sign-in procedures were the only issues cited in a school safety report released for Roy G. Eversole Elementary School this week.

Superintendent Sandra Johnson presented the Hazard Independent School Board with the report, which was conducted by the Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS) last month, at the board’s regular monthly meeting Thursday evening.

“We were allowed to do this with two buildings at no cost, so we selected Roy G. and Hazard Middle School,” Johnson said, later explaining that the report for the middle school had not been received yet as it was done by a separate team for KCSS.

Johnson said overall the results were very positive, as according to the report 100 percent of the 182 parents and staff members surveyed said they felt safe in the building.

“One parent said, ‘There is a lot of physical and emotional security here.’,” the report read. “One student summed up the reasons for her feeling safe when she said, ‘I feel safe because teachers are around everywhere, the doors are locked, and we have security cameras.’”

In the last two years, Roy G. Eversole and Hazard Middle School, formerly Walkertown Elementary, have seen massive renovations that have left the schools with new entrance vestibules to increase security and new door locks.

The assessment also listed the drop off and pickup procedures at the school as being very well done.

“It is very chaotic sometimes, but they’ve got it down to a fine art,” Johnson said.

Nevertheless, Johnson said the KCSS team found three areas the school should consider looking at to improve security. The report noted that the sign-in procedure at the school was lax since the front office staff did not have every visitor document their visit on the sign-in sheet.

“They didn’t even ask the visiting (KCSS) team to sign in. I think that comes from being a small community where everybody knows everybody,” Johnson said. “They want everybody to (sign in with) their name, the date, their destination, their reason for visiting, and have all of that documented, and sign out when you leave.”

The report also listed the need for staff identification badges at the school, something Johnson said has been discussed for a number of years but has never been implemented.

“In the event of an emergency, first responders would not know who was supposed to be in that building and who’s not supposed to be in that building,” she said.

Playground supervision was the final concern listed in the assessment. The KCSS team found that the teachers at the school were congregated basically in one area of the playground with each other during breaks and any outside time, leaving some areas completely unsupervised at times.

“It’s something that we have always, we’ve talked about, and we’ve talked to the teachers about it,” Johnson said. “(They say) it’s the only time we get to see other adults.”

Johnson said teachers have said they would like to be able to talk to each other when they can during recess times as a way to do some collaborative classroom planning.

“When they’re talking most of it is about what they’re doing in classes. They get very little planning time together, so they utilize that time on the playground, but it leaves some areas of the playground unsupervised at times,” Johnson explained.

Bullying was listed as a minor problem at the school based on surveys conducted on over 100 students. With only 15 percent of those students reporting being bullied this year, the most serious cases of bullying included teasing and name calling, nothing physical.

Board member Ralph Asher said he was very pleased that the negative findings of the report were relatively minor.

“It’s good to hear that staff and parents and children feel like they’re safe, and I think that was one of our intentions with some of the renovations that we did at the other schools. If you feel like you’re in a safe environment, then it’s obviously a better learning environment,” Asher said.

Johnson said she hopes to receive the report for the middle school sometime in January.

In other news, the board was presented with the district’s final audit report for the 2012-2013 school year. Matt Shackelford, with the accounting firm Cloyd and Associates, PSC, said no major errors were reported in this year’s audit.