Hannibal School Board reviews list of suggestions to improve school safety

Posted: Feb. 20, 2013 11:14 pm Updated: Mar. 14, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL Mo. — The Hannibal School Board reviewed suggestions Wednesday night for additional safety measures after a Feb. 6 incident when buildings were locked down after reports of a man with a weapon was spotted near two schools.

Business Manager Dana Ruhl said the incident turned out to not be as dangerous as officials initially believed, but the district acted appropriately. Hannibal High School and Hannibal Middle School buildings on McMasters Avenue were locked down for about an hour until the man was found hiding in a small room in the Hannibal YMCA.

Board member Erik Gottman, who has been working with the Hannibal Police Department to review safety measures since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., said the district gained insight from the incident.

“All the buildings are being open-minded and coming up with ideas and solutions,” Gottman said.

Hannibal police officers have toured most district buildings and provided suggestions for improving security. Ruhl presented a list of 11 suggestions for upgrades, including better intercom systems, repairing locks, forming safety committees for each school and creating crisis management plans.

“We’re obtaining a lot of quotes to do a lot of things, but I’m not saying we’re going to be able to do all of them,” Ruhl said.

In other business, Superintendent Jill Janes said Gov. Jay Nixon asked for a $66 million increase in education funding in his “State of the State” address. Janes said the increase would be generated, in part, from additional gaming revenues from a new casino in Gape Girardeau.

“It’s good that they’re looking to put more money into education,” she said. “Both the governor and the House want to, and it’s just finding the money to put it there.”

Janes said another piece of legislation, House Bill 288, calls for grading schools on an a scale. She said it has met some resistance because it would penalize high-performing schools since reports would note a comparative lack of improvement.

Senate Bill 7 would speed up intervention in unaccredited school districts.

“It’s early in the session. You never know what’s going to happen,” Janes said. “You just have to watch and listen and be on top of them.”

The board also reviewed the district’s food service program because schools saw decreases in the number of meals served because of new dietary restrictions. Ruhl reported that those numbers are now on the rise.

Allen Gottman, the district’s energy specialist, reported that Korf Gym will get new lighting in June. The new system will cut lighting fixtures from 76 to 42 but will provide more light.