No security changes for schools Hershey addresses safety concerns in wake of Sandy Hook tragedy

By on December 19, 2012

By: RICHARD REITZ Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Warwick schools have been and will continue to be safe and secure for all students, and no changes to security measures are being planned at this time.

That is what Warwick School District Superintendent Dr. April Hershey affirmed at the Warwick School Board meeting Tuesday, in the wake of the tragic shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last Friday.

Dr. Hershey addressed questions her office has received regarding safety and security at the district’s six school buildings.

"Warwick School District has extensive and comprehensive safety and security plans, which are evaluated and re-evaluated throughout each year," she explained.

She said Warwick received a Regional Emergency Management grant two years ago, which allowed the district to rewrite its plans with the assistance of emergency management professionals.

"Tactical live and table top drills have taken place to equip students and staff with the skills and knowledge necessary to respond to a variety of emergency situations," she said.

Sharing specific details publicly about the district’s emergency management plans is prohibited by federal law, she added.

"It is prudent for all stakeholders to know that these thorough and detailed plans have been created with the assistance of local law enforcement, local emergency management officials, local mental health professionals, and district staff who have received extensive training in this area," she said.

Details regarding the Sandy Hook incident have still not been fully uncovered, she pointed out.

"The media has sadly reported a great deal of incorrect information, adding to our fears and anxieties," Hershey said.

Until the law enforcement investigation is complete at Sandy Hook and they share specific recommendations concerning safety and security, she said no changes regarding security measures will be made at Warwick.

"We will not be making knee-jerk reactions," Hershey continued. "We will take prudent actions, if necessary, once we have all the facts."

An email alert message from Hershey was sent to parents Friday afternoon addressing the incident and the district’s response.

In the letter, Hershey assured parents that Warwick School District has comprehensive safety and security plans in place. "We continue to enforce safety measures and re-evaluate our security with local law enforcement and emergency management personnel (as we do on a regular basis) to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep our children safe," she wrote.

Counselors and psychologists are available for students and parents this week at the schools.

"We encourage any students, staff or parents who would like to talk to someone to please reach out for help," Hershey wrote.

"It is important to reassure children that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make their environment — school, home and neighborhood — safe for them," she wrote. "And we want to reassure you that we are doing that in Warwick School District."

Teachers have been instructed to not discuss the incident with children in the classroom unless it is specifically brought up by a student, according to Lori Zimmerman, district public relations coordinator.

The school board meeting began with a moment of silence to remember the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. There was no public comment at the meeting regarding school security at Warwick.

Locker named head

coach for Warwick baseball

Robert Locker was officially hired as head baseball coach at Warwick High School at Tuesday’s Warwick School Board meeting, at an annual salary of $5,166.

Locker, a math teacher and the varsity head football coach at Warwick for the past 11 seasons, thanked the board at the meeting for their support of him as coach, and expressed enthusiasm for the approaching baseball season.

"I consider it to be a privilege to both teach and coach in such a wonderful school district," he told the board.

Locker replaces Matt Gale, who resigned the position in August to take another position outside the school district. Locker is a former assistant baseball coach at Warwick. For more on this story, see the full feature on Locker’s new position on page B1 of this week’s Record Express.

In addition, the school board hired Mark Galway as varsity assistant boys lacrosse coach, at a salary of $2,741. He replaces Gary Minnich.

The board also accepted the resignation of Joseph Hallowell as assistant varsity track and field coach.

Three teachers hired

The school board hired three teachers at Tuesday’s meeting.

Joseph Lacombe was hired as an English teacher at Warwick High School, beginning with the first day of the second semester of the 2012-2013 school year. He replaces Laura Houghton, who is on a semester study sabbatical leave. He was hired at an annual salary of $44,538.

Kevin Krause was approved as a Warwick Middle School technology education teacher. He starts at the beginning of the second semester at an annual salary of $44,538. He replaces Marty Meier, who is on a semester study sabbatical leave.

Lee Walter was hired as a science teacher at Warwick Middle School, effective Jan. 2. He was hired at an annual salary of $49,610. Walter replaces Jonathan Wilcox, who has resigned. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A16