Wellsville forms schools safety committee

WELLSVILLE — With recent threats and shootings that have happened throughout the country of late, the Wellsville Local School District is taking additional precautionary measures to deter instances from happening locally.

During a special meeting Wednesday, the Wellsville Board of Education unanimously approved a motion for Superintendent Richard Bereschik to set up a schools safety committee.

According to board president Nancy Francis, members of the committee — selected by Bereschik — consist of area parents, school administrators, one member of the school board, school union members and others that make up every walk of life, all of whom readily agreed to participate.

Francis said the purpose of the committee will be to further develop the safety of the schools in the district, taking into account several threats of violence throughout the United States, including the most recent shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which claimed the lives of 17 people — 14 children and three adults — on Feb. 14.

“We’ve had a parent or two come forward and question us about what are we going to do,” Francis said. “One woman said she was not certain what she should do on behalf of her children if there was ever an active shooter inside our school district.”

The committee will hold its first meeting on Monday at Daw Elementary, with discussion to include how the district can improve the safety of the building and grounds for the students.

Noting the district is up to code on its matters, Francis stated the committee will look to address all matters so that nothing related to safety gets left out in the discussion.

“We’re going to update any old policies and correct them if they need to be corrected to make them what the Ohio School Boards Association recommends,” Francis said. “We’re already up to code. We’re going to try to go a step beyond and just be prepared so that if this ever occurs in our district, we can handle it.”

Also related to school safety, the board approved a resolution — first adopted Feb. 24 by the Ohio School Boards Association — asking the president of the United States, the governor of Ohio, the U.S. Congress, and the Ohio General Assembly to enable legislation to provide funding for various ways to increase security and reduce violence in schools.

The funding requests are to enhance mental health services and substance abuse treatment for all individuals and have sufficient access to these services; increase access to school safety measures including Student Resource Officers, school safety infrastructure and other security measures designed to protect students and staff from active shooter on the property; training for school employees and enhance coordination with law enforcement agencies and first responders to assure proper responses; and to preserve the balance between the right to own firearms and protection of stations and employees from all acts of violence.

The OSBA passed the resolution noting the citing of increased school violence as “an epidemic,” that children and employees should be able to attend school without fear of death or injury and families should be able to send their children without the same fears, that all citizens should be able to address the problems, and that multiple students have shown that most Americans support action to eliminate school violence.

“We believe this resolution sends a strong message about the need for change, but also stresses local control and maintains a balance between the Second Amendment and school safety,” the OSBA said in a statement attached to the resolution.