Beau Dusz

WADSWORTH: Safety in the city schools is on the minds of city officials as well as the school board.

Safety Director Matt Hiscock has submitted a plan that school administrators are reviewing.

Meanwhile, the district will conduct a safety training day March 27.

Superintendent Dale Fortner said the agenda for the safety training is being finalized. All employees will be trained in ALICE, a safety program designed for schools that involves the Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate methods, he said.

Fortner said the safety day program also will review current safety procedures and develop additional safety plans or options for classrooms and buildings.

At the January meeting of the Wadsworth Board of Education, member David White emphasized “the board does not take safety lightly.” He acknowledged the plan will be done “diligently” and it “will be a written, well-thought out program.”

White indicated the “new high school is full of cameras and panic buttons.” The 350,000-square-foot building opened in September along with the new Isham, Overlook and Valley View elementary buildings.

“We will not let parents stand at the doors with guns,” White pointed out. He said, “It is a sad day that we have to do this.”

Hiscock, at that same meeting, told the board the city is committed to working with the school system.

At the February meeting of City Council’s Safety Committee, police Chief Randy Reinke said the department will be at the schools’ safety training day. He said Adam Innoncenti is a certified ALICE trainer in the department.

Reinke said Sacred Heart School personnel and the staff of Wadsworth Public Library have been presented with the ALICE program.

“Rather than arming individuals at every school building in the district, it would be a better approach to start talking about beginning a school resource officer program in Wadsworth,” Hiscock explained at that Feb. 5 meeting.

Hiscock pointed out a school resource officer would be a full-time, dedicated Wadsworth police officer for school and school-related law enforcement issues. He said a resource officer would not be one who answered calls from the public and the schools but an officer who would work with school officials and teachers and implement educational aspects with the schools.

Councilman John Sharkey asked Hiscock how the resource officer would be funded.

Hiscock said those details had not been worked out.

Sharkey also wanted to know what the process would be if the officer saw a problem but the school administration did not see it as a problem. Hiscock said that was a major issue between school districts and law enforcement.

Hiscock emphasized the safety forces were trying to address some of the concerns of citizens and get into the school district more to become a partner in law enforcement matters and to provide security when possible.

Citizens voiced their concerns on school safety at the December meeting of City Council and urged the city and schools to work together on a plan for school safety.