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Student safety tops list of parents’ concerns

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RESTRICTED ENTRY. Reba Coulter is the office worker who gets the camera’s view of anyone wanting entry at Nashville Elementary School. She is shown by the box with the camera and the button which visitors must push.

By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

More than academics, more than athletics, parents today are concerned about the safety of their children at school.

“And that’s not just at Nashville; it’s statewide,” Nashville School Supt. Doug Graham told Nashville Rotarians last week. “Everything is second to safety.”

Graham, who is also a Rotarian, said that he might be changing his mind about the need of an armed resource officer, but for right now there are none on the local campuses.

For right now, the school has a camera system which controls who can get through the doors at all Nashville campuses. Graham said that in total, about $400,00 had been spent on all school safety measures.

The camera system enables a person in the office to see who is seeking entrance to the building. If that visitor is approved, the person in the office can push a button and allow admittance.

The camera system also watches over halls, classrooms, gyms, etc. — everything except bathrooms and changing areas. “It’s every angle,” he said. As he spoke, on a screen in the meeting room Rotarians and guests watched high school students on their lunch break. As if at a silent signal, the students began standing and leaving the room to return to class.

Graham said that video tapes are kept for two weeks. They have already been useful to prove to a parent that her child had not accurately reported an incident to her. Graham said that the parent was brought in, viewed the incident, and was apparently satisfied.

In an interview with the newspaper Friday, Graham said that because the ABC School is a program of the De Queen-Gillham Educational Cooperative, the local school district has not installed security cameras. The local school district leases the building to the cooperative.

At the Rotary meeting, the superintendent also talked about the district’s recent report card from the state department of education.

With state average being a good score, Nashville students grades 3-10 were tested in math, language arts and science. In math, six of the 10 assessed grades were equal to or above state average. In language arts, five grades were above the average. In science, five were above the average.

Nashville High School is one of 175 Arkansas schools which earned Arkansas School Recognition Program monetary awards. The schools were in the top 10 percent in the state, and the rewards were for high student performance. The high school was rewarded for the second consecutive year, he said.

The superintendent also spoke briefly about capital improvements on the campuses. New buildings for the agri department and for school bus service are underway. He said that money to pay for the projects couldn’t be spent for many other reasons, and that leftover school fund monies would be lost if not used,

Guests from the school who were at the meeting included NHS principal Tate Gordon, NJHS principal DJ Graham, Elementary principal Rick Rebsamen, assistant Elementary principal Tyra Hughes, athletic director/facilities Bunch Nichols, head football coach Mike Volarvich, and assistant coaches/teachers Brian Bearden, Richard Strickland, Kirk Benson, Glennon Bobo and Jimi Easterling.

Presiding at the meeting was club president Larry Dunaway. The speaker was introduced by club vice-president Bill Craig.