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Re-1 school board discusses safety at retreat

Board members get an update on safety measures
The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District Board held a daylong retreat at the First National Bank of Cortez on Monday to discuss current and upcoming issues.

In light of the Aztec High School shooting, school safety weighed heavily on the minds of the board members at their daylong work retreat on Monday.

The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District board was given an overview of safety from safety coordinator Jamie Haukeness.

At the board’s most recent board meeting, parents from rural schools district brought concerns for their children’s safety during a public forum held after a district safety meeting on Dec. 14.

According to Jamie Haukeness, each school has its own emergency plan. Each principal has a copy of the master plan, and each staff member has a condensed copy.

He highlighted some concerns that are being addressed, such as the addition of an intercom system at Lewis-Arriola Elementary School.

Newly appointed board president Sherri Wright voiced concern about the time it would take first responders to arrive at the more distant rural schools in Pleasant View and Lewis-Arriola.

“I visited with Sheriff (Steven) Nowlin, and we talked about the different things we could do to decrease the lag time,” Wright said.

Nowlin and Wright discussed the possibility of arming retired police officers or veterans to monitor the schools.

The board was interested in the idea, but discussed some problems.

“I think one of my big concerns is just looking, when you say veterans, I just immediately think PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that would concern me,” Brian Balfour said.

The board discussed the level of evaluation of candidates that would be required to implement that kind of program.

“We are talking about our kids’ safety here, so we have to go through every single precaution that we can,” Wright said.

After discussions of psychological evaluations, fingerprinting and background checks, the board agreed there was a lot to consider before placing firearms in schools.

The board also discussed the possibility of using dogs trained to detect drugs and ammunition. Jamie Haukeness pointed out that it is not legal to have dogs sniff students or enter a classroom, but they may sniff lockers.

Superintendent Lori Haukeness added that the dogs are brought into district schools periodically anyway.

The district school board ended their safety discussion by expressing need for technology.

“Having radios for every single classroom, that saved the lives of a bunch of students,” Balfour said.

Board members agreed to a capital reserve measure at it next regular meeting to discuss adding more cameras and radios, especially in rural schools.

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