Monroe Randolph Regional Superintendent of Schools Kelton Davis presented an update on school safety to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners at their regular Monday meeting.
Among initiatives Davis identified are programs to identify and reach out to troubled youth.
“We are generating teen leadership groups,” Davis said, “and teaching them to listen, to reflect on what they are hearing, and then to point troubled peers toward help.”
Davis fielded questions from the commissioners about measures to restrict access to schools and adding armed security personnel, among others. Davis said he is exploring ways to making schools safe without turning them into forts or jails, but there is no single answer.
Davis acknowledged schools are not staffed to provide intensive mental health counseling.
“If (individual health) insurances will play a role (allowing off-site services),” Davis said, “we may then be able to bring more trained mental health therapists into our schools.”
Davis identified another program recently discussed in the Republic-Times — creating a restorative justice teen court as an alternative to adult courts, which may help redirect young people who exhibit wayward, non-violent criminal tendencies. This program is going forward in Monroe and Randolph counties with support of their respective states attorneys.
Finally, Davis addressed measures to help prepare staff and students to best respond to an active shooter situation.
“There’s more that can be done than simply locking doors and hiding in a corner,” Davis said, noting the four “E’s:” “educate, evade, escape and, if necessary, engage.”
“We want to instruct people at appropriate age levels about what might happen and what to do,” Davis said. “If a shooting does occur, we want people to have thought beforehand about evading and escaping.”
In the event of an active shooter, students and teachers are trained to not simply shelter in place, but, if the event is taking place in another part of the school, they should exit swiftly to a safe assembly point.
“And the last ‘E’ is engaging,” Davis said. “A shooter will very likely have tunnel vision and be focused on his plan, which makes him susceptible to being physically headed off by throwing objects or even physically assaulting him, as a teacher recently did (in Indiana).”
At the end of the presentation, Monroe County Commissioner Vicki Koerber commended Davis.
“We appreciate your initiatives,” she told him.
Brian Hooten reported the low bid to replace the aging roof on the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department office and jail building came from Joiner Sheet Metal Roofing, of Greenville. Joiner’s bid to install a rubber material roof with a 30-year guarantee, replace all eight existing skylights and upgrade insulation to R-30 came in close to the budget estimate, at $148,929.00. Work will be performed this fall with completion required by Oct. 15.
Hooten also discussed plans to refurbish the courthouse bandstand, which is aging and has some water damage. First the roof, gutters and three basement doors will be replaced, along with caulking and painting the exterior at a total cost of about $10,000 and using the city’s summer help for labor.
Hooten recommended waiting to see if that work reduces or eliminates the water seepage in the basement before embarking on a second phase, which would include replacing fans, ventilation, lighting and upgrading the bathroom for about $11,000.
A request to rezone a metal building and 10 acres at the northwest intersection of Route 3 and T Road from agriculture to highway business was approved with the condition the new owner of the property, Tony Groves.
Groves said he also plans to add an 80-unit metal storage structure to the land. The rezoning request was approved, with the contingency that Groves provide an easement to allow T Road to be realigned to a right angle to Route 3 and widened as necessary.
Ambulance service director Carla Heise provided an analysis of call volumes over the past 18 months. The statistics showed low numbers of calls from midnight to 6 a.m., but a rapid rise throughout the day, peaking at 10 a.m. to noon.
A further analysis of the 3,084 calls in the last 18 months showed the busiest days are Tuesdays and Fridays. The statistics are being employed to ensure proper staffing.
Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein added a mid-year financial report, saying the ambulance service generated $468,000 in revenues in the first six months of fiscal 2018, and is well on the way to meeting its projected budget this year.
Koenigstein also provided a midyear revenue and expense report for Monroe County, noting that virtually all areas are on or ahead of budget for the year that began Dec. 1. He highlighted zoning fees collected for new and altered buildings is running considerably ahead of the budget number, indicating an increase in building increase in the county. He cautioned, however, that total revenues owed by the state are not guaranteed, even with the passage of the new state budget.
A letter from commissioners to University of Illinois Extension, with copies to St. Clair and Madison counties’ executives, was shared. The letter expresses the importance of Extension’s work in Monroe County. It also points out the larger share of funding that comes from Monroe County, emphasizing the comparable inequities in monetary contributions from Madison and St. Clair counties.
In the letter, the commissioners ask for guidance on solving the financial challenge facing the Extension, as well as for Madison and St. Clair counties to step forward with better funding.
The commissioners are seeking a meeting among the University of Illinois Extension Service and the leaders of the Madison and St. Clair counties.
The Monroe County Board will meet next in regular session at 8 a.m. June 18, at the Monroe County courthouse. Meetings are open to the public and agendas are published at monroecountyil.gov/departments/board-of-commissioners/county-board-agendas.