Newton Falls increases school safety

NEWTON FALLS — Two school resource officers and clear backpacks for students are among the ways Newton Falls school officials are enhancing safety in their buildings for the next school year.

Superintendent Justin Christopher informed the board of education Monday that, along with a combination of grant funds and cost savings measures within the district, he is recommending a contract for two school resource officers. They will be placed at each of the two district buildings on a full-time basis during the school year.

Christopher said cost savings of around $100,000 were derived from not replacing the elementary school principal, with that position consolidated with other administrative positions.

Christopher said school officials are in talks with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Falls village to have one officer from the sheriff’s department and one from the village police in the schools. He said the cost from the sheriff’s department would be $60,000 for an officer with the village cost being discussed.

“We are working on ways to ensure safety for our students and staff,” he said.

He also informed the board of an agreement with PlayOn! Sports to broadcast athletic events for the school district at a cost of $3,000. Christopher said this replaced a similar, former contract that cost near $50,000 — resulting in $47,000 savings.

The board approved the agreement with PlayOn!Sports.

Treasurer Terry Armstrong said the district also will be realizing significant savings from changing online education providers and other vendors moving forward. He said such savings as well as utilizing grant funds will pay for the cost of the two school resource officers.

Christopher said the district has also posted new book bag guidelines to help increase security.

For the 2022-23 year, only clear book bags with clear visibility through all dimensions, including the bottom, will be permitted. Colored, transparent book bags will not be permitted.

Information provided to students indicates as a further security measure, all athletic bags must be checked in to the high school and junior high offices before entering the building and can be retrieved at day’s end. Musical instrument cases must also be checked into the offices prior to entering the building and will be taken to the band / music room each day. Students can retrieve their instruments from their band lockers during class. The instrument case will remain in the office until the end of the day.

Students are permitted to carry personal hygiene items in a small pouch within the clear backpack or a small purse.

In other business, the board:

• Entered into an agreement with Advanced Tree Service at $7,500 for emergency removal of a large branch of oak tree that had snapped off during a recent storm and was laying on other trees. Christopher said the area where the tree is borders a residential property;

• Approved the purchase of a 72-passenger bus from Myers through the Ohio School Council who obtained the bid and appropriation of $104,466 less trade ins of two vehicles valued at $2,000 and $1,500. Officials said $55,443 for the bus will be funded through a grant.

• Approved permitting any accrued, unused vacation days from the 2021-22 year to carryover to the 2022-23 year and to be used by July 31, 2023, for classified workers and non-union staff;

• Approved Zachary Svette as track athletic facility manager at $5,000 for the season for 10 meets.


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