LCO Ojibwe School
In its June 28th School Board meeting, the LCO Tribal Governing Board acting in its capacity as the local school board for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School, voted 6-0 (the chairman is only allowed to vote in the event of a tie) in favor of expanded school security measures proposed by Superintendent Hutchison, along with Facilities Director Jason Weaver, IT Director Renfro Carley and Transportation Director Jim Kingfisher.
In discussion, the school explained that together with the LCO grants department, they have submitted a Department of Justice COPS grant to provide the bulk of funding for a comprehensive door access system, with the capacity to schedule and set lock/unlock functions with card reader access for staff, integrated into the existing camera system with expansion to modular buildings, the Waadookodaading Middle School and Wood Shop. The TGB stated they are dedicated to fully supporting the upgrades. The tribe further agreed to fund the installation of the intercom, bell and public address announcement upgrade, which will allow greater communication and coordination on a daily basis as well as to alert and direct all areas of the building in the event of an emergency.
An additional proposal to replace the outdated cameras that are currently used on most buses with new and additional cameras on all buses and school vehicles was also presented, with a request to match school funds to finance the upgrade. The installation will allow school staff to view cameras on the front, middle and rear of school buses, as well as dash cameras and arm cameras in the case of buses in a more efficient and comprehensive manner. The tribe also unanimously agreed to support 50% of the transportation camera upgrades.
The prioritization of student, staff and community safety is imperative now more than ever with the increasing enrollment that the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School continues to experience, in the midst of growing threats to student safety nationwide. Much discussion was dedicated to the recent and ongoing tragedies involving school shootings and the board expressed the increased expectation to assure buildings and grounds are secure and staff are trained to respond to an active shooter situation along with ensuring that surveillance of vehicles is as all-encompassing as possible. The total potential price tag for the upgrades could be as much as $447,436 and the grant award announcement is expected sometime in early August. The school will provide $108,000 for both the security system and fleet camera system from remaining ARPA funds.