PRESQUE ISLE – SAD 1 teachers could be wearing photo ID badges as soon as next month as school officials work to make their buildings as secure as possible.
SAD 1 Superintendent Gehrig Johnson informed the school board during its Wednesday night meeting about the steps school officials are taking as they implement new crisis and emergency plans in the district and work to increase the safety and security of school buildings.
Johnson said the district already has spent a considerable amount of money on precautions, including about $60,000 in surveillance equipment and 38 cameras for the high school. The district also has a visitor pass system in place now so that unfamiliar faces coming into SAD 1 schools can be identified easily.
Still, Johnson said, officials are looking into the photo name tags “so every person who’s supposed to be in our building is readily identifiable.” With the pass and badge systems in place, the superintendent said, it will clearly mark any strangers walking around the building.
As part of the new system, he said school staffers will be required to approach people not wearing a badge or name tag and ask them why they are in the building.
Johnson said the district already has the equipment to create the badges, which will be worn as clips or on lanyards. He said SAD 1 will be implementing the picture ID system as soon as possible.
The superintendent also told the board that officials will be investigating the cost effectiveness and feasibility of staffing the main entrances of SAD 1 schools “to meet the public as they go in and out.”
“There’s more we can do and should do in this day and age,” Johnson said about increasing security in the schools.
In other news, the school board:
. Unanimously approved a resolution to oppose the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which will appear as Question 1 on the November ballot. The measure will ask if voters want to limit increases in state and local government spending and require voter approval for all tax and fee increases. The measure would limit the growth of spending at the state and local levels to the annual rate of inflation and population growth. It would require a two-thirds majority approval by voters for any tax or fee increases.
Supporters of the proposal maintain that TABOR allows for reasonable growth of government at all levels while also creating a stable tax and regulatory climate.
Johnson said Assistant Superintendent Jeff Bearden “ran the numbers” and that if TABOR had been implemented five years ago, SAD 1’s 2007 budget would be about $2 million less than what voters approved in May. The calculation was based on the district’s enrollment, which has decreased by about 1.5 percent every year for the last five years, and on the Consumer Price Index, which for the area has increased by about 2.6 percent.
According to the TABOR formula, that would have limited SAD 1 to an average budget growth of 1.1 percent. The district’s growth has seen an average increase of about 3.5 percent – needed simply to pass a status quo budget, officials said.
Bearden also pointed out that with 75 percent of the district’s budget going to employees, if SAD 1 had to reduce its budget by $2 million, a lot of that impact would have been felt by the staff.
Officials approved a resolution opposing the measure, amending it only to add information on how SAD 1 specifically would be affected by TABOR, if it is put in place.