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S'side schools safe, city council told

Over 90 percent of parents with students in the Sunnyside School District feel their children are safe while at school, according to statistics the district shared with the Sunnyside City Council Monday night.

Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole presented the statistics, the results of a parent safety survey, as a way to present information that may not have gotten out about school safety.

"In general, the parents are saying 'we feel our kids are safe'," said Cole of results from the district-conducted survey.

Surveys were sent out to parents of the 5,700 students enrolled in the Sunnyside School District. The district received 2,350 completed surveys, a number that Cole said pleased district officials.

The district's highest marks of 97 percent approval were in the areas of orderliness and supporting learning.

The lowest mark of 90 percent approval was in response to how the district handles discipline problems.

The lowest mark at any one school was at the high school, where just over 60 percent of the 854 parents who responded said discipline problems are handled fairly, effectively and promptly.

Issues cited there included an inconsistent handbook and a football field incident that a parent felt was met promptly, but not fairly or effectively.

Cole also addressed council on two other subjects last night.

He presented the Yakima County School Violence Protocol and Agreement, which the school district has agreed to.

Cole said a response to threats of violence is something districts often work on after there has been an incident. Citing the 90 percent approval rating of school safety from the district survey, Cole noted this is an appropriate time for development of the protocol. "While we're feeling safe, now is a good time," he said.

He added that the protocol comes as gang activity, as well as drugs and alcohol use, continue to decline.

The protocol agreement covers cooperative efforts from crisis intervention and school security, to law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health.

Cole closed that portion of his presentation by asking for the city's support of the school violence protocol agreement.

Noting that school safety and a decrease in gangs and drugs require students to have other activities, Cole then presented the district's $3.95 million bond proposal for athletic facility improvements.

If approved by voters, the bond would increase property taxes by 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Cole said the high school's current bleachers, which were moved from Lincoln Field in 1973, are an insurance concern.

Noting that the bond proposal would provide new bleachers with a seating capacity of 3,750, Cole said the football field and bleachers would be moved to the track area. That, in turn, would provide seating for those watching track and field events.

Other provisions of the proposal include more open space for outdoor physical education classes, more parking, and restrooms and showers closer to the outdoor athletic areas.

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