TIPP CITY — On Monday night, the Tipp City school board approved the purchase of new buses and discussed school safety drills.
The board heard from Chief Eric Burris, Sgt. Chris Graham and Officer Corey Rismiller of the Tipp City Police Department about school safety drills.
Graham said that the department and the district partnered to start safety drills in 2007 after a law was passed requiring districts to implement lockdown drills.
“I think, with very little direction from the state, we were able to implement what was successful on many parts. It was helpful for us as a police department to respond to something like this and it was helpful for the staff,” Graham said.
The district is working toward a full-scale mock drill in two years, Graham said. This year the district was required to conduct a table-top exercise. Next year will be more of a “middle ground” exercise that will include police and staff.
The schools conducted an outdoor playground scenario on Nov. 10 that involved a red plastic training gun, Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said.
“It was never pointed toward any individual, whether that be a child or adult. But we’ve learned, with so much going on in our world and our nation, that we are at a state that even training guns make individuals — all of us — uncomfortable,” she said. “It has been determined that, in the future, the safety drills that will be conducted at Tipp schools will not use those red plastic training guns.”
Kumpf said that planning drills takes a lot of coordination and the district is fortunate to be able to work so closely with the city’s first responders.
Graham said the district’s relationship with the police department is “unlike any I’ve seen before or been a part of.”
“Generally the communication doesn’t exist or isn’t as strong,” he said.
Burris and Graham noted that the schools now have radios and computers that can contact the dispatch center and the department directly. In addition to a DARE officer, there is also another officer who spends time at the schools everyday, Burris said.
Rismiller also noted that becoming a more familiar sight in the schools has helped students build more positive associations with the police department.
“We want to be positive role models for the kids,” he said. “Fours years ago I started working at the high and you were lucky to have any kid say hi to you. And now you go to the high school and every kid says hi. Just the change in the kids really not wanting us there to, ‘Hi, how are you?’ They actually talk to us now, so it’s nice to see the progression from what it was to what it is now.”
One parent raised concerns at the meeting about the drills affects on students with special needs and questioned whether the district had taken them into consideration when planning drills.
The board voted in favor of the purchase of two 2018 Blue Bird 72-passenger buses. The total price for both was $153,600, with one bus being paid for out of the permanent improvement fund. The other will be paid for from the general fund.
The board also approved the purchase of one 84-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift for the price of $96,725.
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