Students Express Concerns with School Safety

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

On Tuesday, March 27th, the Calais School Committee read a letter written by students to address their concerns regarding school safety. The letter comes in response to not only the school shooting in Florida that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers but to the gun-related threat to the Winter Carnival bonfire prior to vacation. 

Kylie Donovan, a senior at Calais High School, was one of the students on hand to talk to the School Committee on behalf the students. “When you walk through the halls, students are stressed,” Donovan said talking about how the students feel every day at school. “Our focus isn’t gun control, it’s safety.”

The student council and JMG program have organized a Walk-In for Wednesday, March 14th. The Walk-In will last 17 minutes and is a way for the students and faculty to honor the 17 lives lost in Florida. The 17 minutes will provide students a chance to express themselves however they wish, including performing music, art, poetry, or other means. The students have also invited administration and the school committee to be present so they can talk with students about their concerns. The Walk-In is a school event only.

Over school break, Principal Mary Anne Spearin met with the school custodians to ensure that all doors to the school are staying locked. Spearin also contracted Bill DeLong from Maine Homeland Security who will be coming in May to do a workshop with the teachers. He will help teachers understand what to do and how to make Calais schools safer for our students. 

Elementary School Principal Sue Carter explained new measures the school is taking to help work on ensuring they are as prepared as they can be. They are taking new steps regarding fire drills as well as continuing to work with the police department on lockdown drills at the school. During the School Liaison meeting prior to the School Committee meeting, Carter expressed the concern they have with finding a safe evacuation site for the elementary kids. They had been using the Armory but have since been told that option is no longer available. They now evacuate to the fire department, which, with the flurry of activity that they would have during a school evacuation, isn’t the safest place to be. The school and city will both work on seeking alternatives to the situation. 

The School Committee also reviewed the policy regarding the meeting cancellation policy. The policy would be to contact all members of the board before a meeting is officially canceled. The committee also discussed the expulsion and suspension procedures and differences. Suspension is a procedure that can be handled on an administrative level while expulsion requires  school board action. 

Superintendent Ron Jenkins also presented the committee with the resignation of English Teacher Josh Morgan. Morgan was on a first year contract with the school and will resign at the end of this year.