Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013, 10:23 pm

Moline schools look at safety procedures

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By Nicole Lauer, correspondent@qconline.com

Moline School Board members on Monday discussed safety and a program aimed at increasing graduation rates and giving students job skills.

Chris Lopez, risk management committee chair for the district, told board members the district is doing a good job of preparing for a crisis, including a school intruder. But changes are needed, he said.

The district's training and reassessment is aimed at empowering people to make extraordinary moves in extraordinary situations, Mr. Lopez said. Thereis excellent communication between district buildings, he said, with teachers, psychologists and administrators trained to identify possible problems.

Safety procedures have shifted in the past five years, he said, and the district plans to retrain staff and students on simpler responses to crises. Currently, the high school has two types of lockdowns, he noted. Students andstaff are encouraged to hunker down and wait for law enforcement if there was an intruder.

Now, he said, there is more emphasis on barricading individuals in an area to better keep them from harm. Mr. Lopez said the change is based on analyses of recent school shootings.

Another change, he said, is a trend toward more intervention. An individual may sacrifice himself or herself to save others or take down an intruder, Mr. Lopez said.

The district plans to reassess student evacuation plans, particularly for elementary buildings which may have fewer options to relocate students.

Clint Christopher also addressed the school board Monday on an opportunity this semester to test a program run by Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates. The effort includes a dropout prevention program, mentoring and academic recovery options for students.

The cost of the program, conducted by an iJAG staff person, is $65,000 for one year. Mr. Christopher said piloting the program for half a semester would have cost the district $8,000, but iJAG has offered to waive that fee.

If the board decides to fully implement the program next year, the Deere Foundation plans to pay $50,000 toward the expense of the staff person, he said. The district would need to find $15,000 in its budget to cover the rest.

Board member Bob Tallitsch took issue with implementing a new program when the district is struggling with budget issues and the possibility of reduced programming. He agreed the iJAG program could be an asset, and the board agreed to revisit the issue at the next meeting.

In other business, board members:

- Approved hiring Matthew Woods as head varsity football coach.

- Approved reducing the high school graduation requirement from 23 credits to 21.5 credits.

- Approved installing playground equipment at Jane Addams Elementary School and a new LED sign at Wilson Middle School. Both projects are funded by PTA groups.