Rhea County school board reviews security

Rhea County school board reviews security

September 16th, 2013 by Kimberly McMillian in Local Regional News

Jerry Levengood, the director of schools in Rhea County, Tenn.

Jerry Levengood, the director of schools in Rhea...

DAYTON, Tenn. - Rhea County school board members agree that added safety precautions are needed for Frazier and Rhea Central elementary schools.

"I think we need to do something," board member Chip Pendergrass said at the board's regular meeting last week.

Last month, board members discussed reviewing estimates to make changes, such as secure entrances for school offices from entryways and additional measures at Rhea Central Elementary, with its larger vestibule and wider doors.

Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said an economical, secure option of glass-enclosed entryways to each of the school's offices, similar to that at the new Rhea County High School in Evensville, would create a safer environment for students and teachers.

Levengood said school officials had received an estimate of $10,000 for the glass enclosures, but that detailed information was needed to determine exact needs for each school.

Board members discussed requesting floor plans from the principal. Some members worried that enclosing office entrances could get in the way of emergency evacuations.

Levengood said older schools were built with multiple exits specifically to allow for emergency evacuations.

The board voted for Levengood and Elementary Supervisor Ray Fugate to review both schools' requirements before October's meeting.

Members also debated what to do about a vacant portable classroom at Rhea Central. It's been empty since the middle grades moved to Rhea Middle School, which adjoins the high school.

Levengood said schools officials had talked with Dayton City School officials about their taking the portable, but he said the city school officials had not followed up in the last three weeks. He said he had received a $63,000 bid to move the portable from Rhea Central to the education office.

Board member B.J. McCoy suggested the portable be declared surplus and sold, and the money used to restore underpinning on the Rhea Middle School portable.

Members voted 8-1 to declare the eight-classroom portable as surplus. Carroll Henderson voted against the motion.

After the meeting, Henderson said the system should have kept the portable.

"We've never had enough room until now," he said.

In other business, the board elected John Mincy chairman and Bimbo McCawley vice chairman.

"I hope we can concentrate our policies" for the upcoming year, Mincy said.

McCawley said he'd received "gleaming reports" from neighboring county principals about the new school, and he hoped "the community is on board."

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.