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MS school to consider creating police department within district

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By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

A proposal to create a police department within the school died before the Mineral Springs School Board, Monday night, but the board will reconsider the item at its next meeting.

Presenting the proposal was Brandon Smith, currently the resource/security at the school. Smith recently resigned as fulltime Mineral Springs police officer, but told the board he remained a parttime officer with the department. As Smith and Supt. Bill Lee explained the proposal, Smith couldn’t be called away from the school in the event he was needed by the city department. He would also have jurisdiction at the school’s Saratoga campus which is not the case currently.

Smith told the board that the proposal had the support of city and county officers. “The sheriff is behind us.”

Supt. Lee said there would be no extra cost to the district and that things would essentially continue to operate as they do now.

When it came to a vote on the resolution, however, there were two yes votes, one nay vote, and two abstentions.

The board continued to discuss the item and one board member asked if they could table it. Board president Mike Erwin said the only way was for two thirds of the quorum to vote to overturn the ‘no’ vote at next month’s meeting.

Smith said that the proposal had to go before two sanctioning boards after receiving the MS approval. Voting for the resolution were board members Ray Hawkins and Kay Thornton; voting against was Dorothy Vaughn; abstaining from the vote were William Dixon and Sheila Jackson.

Another proposal was successfully tabled.

Bus driver Robert Bullock spoke, representing four other drivers present. He asked that the board adopt a ‘step’ payment to drivers to reward them for seniority. He presented a comparison with other area schools.

Supt. Lee said that the school paid insurance for drivers, which other schools didn’t, and that their annual bonus was equal to that of teachers.

After a discussion lasting about 20 minutes, the board tabled the item to give the drivers a chance to present their proposal to the superintendent. Board president Erwin said that the board would consider whatever recommendation the superintendent made.

In other matters:

The board voted to continue facemasks and COVID protocols through the end of the school year. The board will consider in August whether to continue the practice.

A calendar for the 2021-22 school year was adopted. Mineral Springs will have a four-day week in 2021-22, but Lee told the board that the ‘open’ day, Monday, would be used for remedial work.

The board accepted bids for a new trip bus; air conditioning units for parts of the old school campus still in use; and rehired the classified staff.

Resignations were accepted for Kenneth Green and Arlene Fugitt, and new hires were approved, including Jordan Leeper, elementary school; Laken Scott, fifth grade; Eden Crowe Spears, high school girls basketball; and Evan Spears, softball, math and assistant football coach.

Present for the meeting were board members Mike Erwin, Ray Hawkins, Kay Thornton, William Dixon, Dorothy Vaughn and Sheila Jackson. The board also heard a progress report by MS Elementary Principal Stacey Gauldin.