Mehlville looks at safety beyond Prop S

Mehlville+looks+at+safety+beyond+Prop+S

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

One of the main priorities within the Mehlville School District’s strategic plan is safety, and with the passage of Proposition S — a $35 million no-tax-rate increase bond measure — in April, the district was able to upgrade some safety aspects at its facilities.

Prop S money was allocated to securing front entrances, improving air quality and expanding or improving several other safety or accessibility features. 

At the Board of Education’s Sept. 16 meeting, Executive Director of Planning and Operations Chad Dickemper presented how the district was looking ahead at future safety priorities beyond Prop S.

Earlier this year, the board agreed to a new partnership with St. Louis County Police to have seven officers acting as school resource officers. The district also employs 33 secondary officers, and the board voted Sept. 16 to increase their hourly wage from $30 to $35  to stay competitive. Board member Patrick McKelvey suggested the board look at increasing it to $40 when the budget allows.

“I don’t want to jump the gun, if $35 is the number we did all the budget considerations for that’s totally acceptable and we can revisit it in the future,” McKelvey said.

Dickemper said air quality is a safety issue and it is a main branch of future spending. The plan outlined the need to continuously update, repair and replace HVAC units on buildings instead of letting them become defunct. Monitoring of asbestos and radon levels is also a priority.

Perimeters and windows will also continue to be updated with new technology like locks and keypads or with new structural upgrades like safety glass and concrete barriers. Dickemper said some fences around the districts have gaps that were identified for a fix. 

Security cameras were also identified for a change moving forward.

“We did not want security cameras to be a part of Prop S although it was identified as a priority,” Dickemper said. “We are looking at a five-year plan to invest significant security cameras in our schools. Three schools have already begun to be addressed … most of the wiring is up … they have a goal of installing about 75 cameras per semester this school year.”

Stairwells are the main focus of the new cameras, but there will be some outside and inside across buildings. Dickemper said recommendations were given by the Safety Assessment Committee after walking through each school.

Dickemper said the district will maintain some practices that have proven effective over time. This includes Raptor Technology screenings, which keeps track of anyone leaving and entering the school and can identify and flag sex offenders, SirenGPS for automatic 911 alerts to the schools, reinforcement of 4E training and annual revisions of school crisis plans.