RPSB votes to get second opinion on Emergency Operations Plan

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - As school officials across the nation discuss the safety of students, the Rapides Parish School Board voted to get a second opinion on current security measures in all schools throughout the district.

"We need to be ready folks, and right now you are not ready," said Coordinator of Risk Management for the District Roy Rachal.

After much discussion, the board voted to hire outside company 'SafePlans' to perform a gap assessment on the district's Emergency Operation Plan for more than $200,000.

Rachel said it's overdue. The plans were last updated in 2012.

"Any type of emergency operation plan should be a working document," Rachal said. "You should probably review it on a quarterly basis, minimally."

Board member Willard McCall was concerned the cost was too pricey for just an assessment. But, Rachel said you can't put a price on safety.

"$200,000 is a drop in the bucket," Rachal said. "If you look at the plan its very comprehensive, it includes even a software package for emergency reporting and training, and site mapping. It will actually give that information to whoever is on security, like law enforcement."

Board member Dr. Stephen Chapman said this brings a fresh set of eyes on the matter, as they have already had school resource officers look at strengthening security.

"Safety of our children," said Chapman. "You have to keep that in mind, safety of our children. We need to act now."

Another hot topic passed was adding four new nursing positions to the district.

"There is a statute that recommends one nurse to every 1,500 students," said Rapides Coordinator of Nursing Stephanie Bartow.

Bartow said we currently exceed that ratio with one to 1,820.

Positions would also cost more than $200,000 but Bartow said it's worth it.

"We are seeing and increase in diabetes, and we work closely with students and their families," Bartow said. "But, there are numerous other conditions that we see in schools."

Currently, 59 students in the district face diabetes related issues.

Now passed, they hope to add the nurses immediately.

Last week, we reported on a public forum held by the board to discuss the implementation of Freshman Academies at Bolton High School and Peabody Magnet High School. They also discussed putting a Career and Tech Education Center at Peabody.

At Tuesday night's board meeting, the Academies and Center were approved by the board and will start next school year.

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