School security was discussed at the Tuesday night, May 31, meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education.
Plans are underway to apply for a grant for security, according to district officials.
District administrators are proposing to use grant funds up to $1 million to increase lighting and cameras at school buildings.
The grant would require a 50 percent match from the district.
Tracy Kaiser, executive director of business operations, said although their initial thought was to apply for $1 million, they understood from state education officials that probably only $400,000 to $500,000 could be approved, so they are looking at a $200,000 or $250,000 match.
The grant is proposed to replace outdoor and interior cameras that are outdated, she said.
Board member Wanda Paige asked about adding school resource officers at the elementary schools.
While Superintendent Anna Stubblefield does not oppose the idea, she said she had looked at the grant funds as one-time funds more suited to purchase equipment than for personnel. If used for personnel, the board then would need to make a decision in the future whether to continue the positions, when the grant funding was not available. She also said she wanted to discuss the issue first with the school district’s new police chief.
The district has 38 campuses, with 20 elementary schools, Dr. Stubblefield said.
The district received the applications for the grant last week, and it’s due on June 10, according to district officials.
Board member Rachel Russell recalled an earlier discussion that the board did not want to add any more security positions. Board member Janey Humphries said she was not comfortable with using grant funding for salaries when the board is not sure they’ll be able to continue the positions.
Dr. Valdenia Winn, a board member, said she would like to see a copy of the grant application before it goes out.
The board reached a consensus to talk more about the grant at its special 3 p.m. Monday, June 6, budget session.
In other action, the board approved a school name change for the Fairfax Learning Center, now the Alfred Fairfax Academy, which is located at the old White Church Elementary School building, and a mascot name change for Arrowhead Middle School, which is changing from Apaches to Wolves.
The board also heard a report about a service agreement with Proximity Learning to provide virtual certified teachers in the event of vacancies at high schools and middle schools.
The total cost will be $3.043 million, but that amount would be reduced as the district hires its own teachers, according to district officials. The cost does not include the cost of hiring teacher assistants for the classrooms.
The district will continue its search for teachers, according to Dr. Stubblefield.
It was recently reported that more than 200 staff members will be leaving the district. Dr. Stubblefield stated that this year’s number of teachers leaving the school district because of retirement or resignation is not very much different from the usual numbers over the past five years.
There were 327 staff members who retired or resigned last year, she said. In 2019-2020, there were 273 total; and in 2018-2019, there was a total of 361, she said.
She said from information they gathered, the district’s enforcement of a policy last year concerning not allowing staff members to pay liquidated damages if the district does not have a suitable replacement could have had an effect on some staff members leaving.
Several other topics were discussed at the meeting, which is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiPf6F8GQv.