By Denise Dick
Students arriving at city schools later this month will see more than just restructured buildings and new programs.
Metal detectors will be used at East High School, Chaney, P. Ross Berry eighth- and ninth-grade academy, Choffin Career and Technical Center and University Project Learning Center, which will be housed at the former Mary Haddow school.
Previously, metal detectors were used for periodic checks, but this school year they will be an everyday feature.
“It’s about safe schools,” Superintendent Connie Hathorn said at a school board meeting Tuesday. “We want safe schools.”
A flier sent to parents of all district children includes information about the increased security.
“In our secondary schools, expect to see police officers and the use of metal detectors,” it says. “Anyone entering our buildings may be subject to a search.”
The district also has the hand-held, wand-style metal detectors that can be used at other schools if needed.
“It’s a deterrent,” said William Morvay, school district security chief.
Hathorn said that dogs also will be used in parking lots and for student lockers, checking for the presence of narcotics.
He acknowledged that some students are fearful of dogs, and said the animals will check the areas away from students.
“We won’t have dogs around any students,” Hathorn said.
Anthony Catale, school board member, questioned whether district personnel can search students if they’re suspected of carrying drugs on their person.
“We have the right to search if we suspect the kid has drugs,” the superintendent said.
In other business, Catale announced that he would not seek a second term on the school board. His term expires at year’s end.
The board also recalled 22 teachers that were laid off last spring, as the district’s financial outlook has improved. The district restructuring plan of schools is projected to save about $2 million annually, and a deal with Eastern Gateway Community College to rent the top floor of Choffin for a branch campus for the community college, will also bring in additional revenue.
One of those who was recalled opted not to return to the job.