RIM OF THE WORLD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Student safety tops trustees’ concerns
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
The shooting of a Virginia teacher by a 6-year-old student was uppermost on the minds of several of the trustees who make up the Rim of the World Unified School District’s school board.
President Bill Mellinger spoke first at the Jan. 26 meeting, saying he is “saddened” for the students and the teacher at the Virginia school.
“I am concerned about the safety and security on our campuses,” he said. “We have to keep (these concerns) in front of us. We are in a time when we have social and emotional issues for students and staff.
“We still have issues of security we have to be concerned about across our district. We will continue to look at what we have to do.”
President Mellinger then said the district needs to float a bond so they can raise the funds to provide the necessary security – fencing, doors, locks.
“It really matters to me,” he said.
Trustee Cindy Gardner agreed. “As I walk into Rim High School, I’m aware of how vulnerable it is. I realize how vulnerable our schools, children and employees are. As a board, the buck stops with us in keeping our kids safe.
“How are we going to fit this into our budget?” she asked. “How do we make it a priority with the limited funding we have? There are too many safety projects that we just don’t have the funding for.”
Gardner then pointed to the maintenance issues at the schools. “There is an amazing amount of rain coming into Rim High through the lights. How are we allowing our students and staff to be in facilities that need so much? We don’t have a way to keep them cool in summer and dry in winter. No worker would stay in a place like that – it’s inhumane.
“We have to make some definitive decisions,” Gardner said. “If that means going for a bond, then that’s what we have to do. We can’t keep putting Band-Aids on these problems. We need to step it up and secure our facilities in a better manner. If we can’t say we did our best, then we’re not doing our job. We can’t do it with the budget we have.
“This madness has to stop.”
“All I can do is agree,” said Trustee Scott Craft. “I’ve been raising safety issues for years. Safety is a big concern. We shouldn’t have to say we’ll address this issue next year, another issue the next. I hope we can get a bond, funded correctly.
“We really need to protect our kids,” Craft said.
Later in the meeting, representatives of Schneider Electric presented the board with four options for maintenance updates.
Option 1 would replace single-pane windows at Lake Arrowhead Elementary School with dual-pane and would replace fluorescent lighting at Charles Hoffman Elementary School with LED lighting. LAE has the last single-pane windows in the district.
Option 2 would provide electrical upgrades at LAE and would include the lighting upgrade at Charles Hoffman. The point of the electrical upgrades would be to provide enough amperage for future air conditioning.
Option 3 would add to Option 2 the replacement of furnaces at LAE so the school would be “cooling ready.”
And Option 4 would add cooling to LAE.
The projected costs as presented were $1,650,000 to $1,900,000 for Option 1; $1,650,000 to $2,200,000, Option 2; $4,000,000 to $5,100,000, Option 3; and $6,050,000 to $8,000,000, Option 4.
There would be energy savings with both the dual-pane windows and the LED lighting. And higher efficiency furnaces would also save energy.
The Schneider Electric representatives emphasized that these options are only at 50-percent development. They are looking, they said, for direction from the board on the preferred option.
The district has already secured some grant funding and has applied for additional grant funding from the Department of Energy. Schneider Electric said they would help the district with a bond measure.
The ultimate goal of this program would be “to transform the learning environment through energy and infrastructure improvements.” The proposed work would improve the safety and comfort of the students and improve the efficiency and aesthetics of the facilities.