SAD 35 board debates district’s weapon policy
By Mark Pechenik
May 23, 2014 2:00 AM
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — School safety was the subject of extended discussion at the MSAD 35 board of directors meeting on Wednesday.
Several board members questioned a proposed district policy titled “Weapons, Violence and School Safety.” SAD 35 Superintendent Mary Nash said the policy “seeks to provide a context for carrying weapons in school.” It bans weapons in district schools except for those carried by trained police officers.
Board member Laura Leber asked if such a policy would leave schools vulnerable to an assault by an intruder.
Board member Fred Wilnauer asked “why the police can’t just leave their weapons outside of school.”
Nash said school safety officers, many of whom are members of local police departments, have proven effective in “de-escalating violence in schools.” She then praised officer Jeff Upton, Marshwood High School’s safety officer, as an “unbelievable resource.”
“I just wonder whether he could be just as effective without a gun,” Wilnauer said.
Added Leber, “I’m not saying everyone should be able to bring in weapons to schools — I just don’t know what the answer is to this question.”
Nash said that after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, SAD 35 did an assessment of its safety measures.
“There were some who wanted an open school environment, while others wanted air locks in every building as part of increased protection,” she said. “I think we’ve struck the right balance when it comes to school safety.”
The board voted to accept a first reading of the proposed weapons policy. It must go through two more readings before it becomes an official district policy.
In other business
Leber said the district is projecting a $475,000 year-end surplus. She cited savings of $200,000 in wage and salary expenses, $100,000 in health insurance costs, $37,000 in heating oil and $35,000 in diesel fuel expenditures. As a result of these savings, board members approved several year-end capital purchases of $22,000 for a district school van, $9,400 for a steam generator at Marshwood Great Works School, and $6,500 for a diagnostic computer to determine necessary maintenance and repairs for district school buses.
Student representative Hannah Bossi said Marshwood High’s “We the People” constitutional debate team finished 13th of 56 national teams and was recently recognized for winning the New England region of the competition.
Student representative Sophia Syrene said this year’s Troy Pappas Day will be Saturday, May 31. Highlights will include a varsity baseball game, home run derby and an alumni baseball game. The event honors Pappas, a Marshwood High alumnus who died in an accident during his freshman year at Bates College.
Nash announced that Marshwood High’s graduation will be at 6 p.m. June 13 at the high school.