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Consultant sees areas of improvement in keeping Sunnyside schools safe and secure

Sunnyside School Board officials heard a report from Seattle consultant Al Smith regarding safety in local schools at their regularly scheduled meeting last night (Thursday).

Smith's purpose was to determine whether or not the program could be evaluated. He told officials that the goals and objectives of the security program are not clear enough to evaluate, but he did have some recommendations.

Smith recommended that the security program in schools be restructured so that building principals have more day to day responsibility for supervision and safety in their buildings.

On that note, Security Director John Hughes said that he and Smith agreed to disagree.

Smith also recommended:

- Placing increased emphasis on ongoing communication of program plans, activities and results.

- Assigning administrative responsibilities for the dropout and gang reduction component primarily by the three secondary principals.

- Exploring the possibilities for accessing appropriate ESD 105 resources and staff assistance.

- Providing sufficient secretary support to the program.

Smith also recommended maintaining John Hughes as director, but to revise his job description to include sharing responsibilities with the facilities director, providing consultation and resource assistance to the dropout and gang component, leading the drug and alcohol prevention component and for Hughes to be responsible for the safety plan mandated by legislation that is to be in place by September 2008.

In response, Hughes noted that the school district has been working on a work activity plan that contains departmental objectives, timelines and evidence of completion.

He also noted that he and Superintendent Rick Cole meet weekly with police officials to discuss safety concerns. In addition, he said representatives of the school district are also involved in the gang task force.

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