Safety committee recommends audit of schools

PARKERSBURG – A safety committee for Wood County Schools will bring plans to the board of education to conduct exterior safety audits to help upgrade the crisis response plan.

Pat Sole, coordinator of Safety and Energy Management, chaired a safety meeting Thursday afternoon and got backing to take plans to the board of education to upgrade the crisis response plan.

Over the next few months Sole will conduct audits of the school system’s facilities, reviewing dozens of exterior aspects of the sites.

“We want to find the deficiencies and correct them,” he said.

The safety committee met last month – just days prior to the Sandy Hook, Conn., school shooting incident. Thursday Sole said the timing of the group’s meeting, its agenda and the incident was ironic.

“It’s good we are diving head-first into this,” he said.

Sole said since Sandy Hook, principals, custodians and administrators have changed things.

“What has been the norm in the past may not be in the future,” he said. “Things are going to change.

“We need input to secure things.”

Sole said some schools have items in place- such as cameras, alarms and inside door locks- that aren’t being utilized due to a lack of resources.

Parkersburg High PRO officer Dan Miller said his review of shelter-in-place emergency totes at PHS contained flashlights with corroded batteries and out-of-date water.

Sole will recommend officials change policy to require identification to be buzzed into school facilities.

He said every day people want to be let into the facilities without providing identification or a reason for their visit.

“They get irate about it,” he said. “But they need to state why they are there.”

Sole discussed items with the committee, seeking approval to present plans to next week’s board of education meeting. He plans to meet with principals and the board regarding the crisis response plan.

Sole hopes to have the school system in compliance with the crisis plan by August.