Columbia Public Schools's safety and security update leaves questions unanswered

6 months 1 week 1 day ago Monday, March 12 2018 Mar 12, 2018 Monday, March 12, 2018 3:47:00 PM CDT March 12, 2018 in Continuous News
By: Charles Nichelson, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Almost a month after the Parkland school shooting, the Columbia Public Schools's board meeting will feature an update on the district's safety and security measures.

The annual meeting, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 22, just days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL., was postponed due to weather.

In previous years it showcased the procedures and systems in place, along with recent upgrades, in regards to safety; but this year, parents came with questions.

"What is the plan," one parent asked, during the public comment section, in reference to what might happen during an active-shooter incident.

These questions come just two weeks after a student at Oakland Middle School was arrested and charged with a terror threat, which was then reduced to a disturbance of the peace, for posting song lyrics that mentioned bullets and gunfire on his SnapChat - this is one of several threats made against multiple Columbia Public Schools's campuses, according to Columbia Public Schools's Community Relations Director, Michelle Baumstark. The boy's mother, who asked to remain anonymous when previously speaking with KOMU, believes the school district is making an example out of her son (the status of his case is unclear due to his juvenile status).

That incident was just one of several reported incidents of potential school threats in the mid-Missouri area, reported by KOMU (with teens taken into custody in California, Fulton and Jefferson City), since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High.

The school meeting also comes just two days before some students and staff members across the nation are expected to walkout in memorial of the Parkland shooting.

"I think right now our community, just like communities across the countries, have a lot of questions when it comes to school safety," Director Baumstark, said. "This will be an opportunity to hear where we are as a school district, to be able to have a discussion, and to ask questions."

But questions in regards to security plans were outside the focus of this report. Columbia Public Schools's Security Director, John White, presented the report on the past year's security changes, including technology updates to the security cameras and card-reader entrances.

However, there are plans for the future. An April bond issue could give the district an additional $750,000 to address architectural concerns across Columbia Public Schools's campuses, if passed.

"One of the things we want to do is really look are our buildings secure, from an entry standpoint," Columbia Public Schools board member, Christine King, said. "With our new buildings it's not as much of a challenge, but some of our older buildings... you're not in a secure location."

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