Kingston (Photo by Tom Gilchrist) Kingston school board members (from left) Kristen Misener, Jason Koehler, Scott Neff and Jeff Long discuss the process of admitting visitors to Kington Junior/Senior High School at Monday’s board meeting.

Abuzz about the buzzer: School visitors spark debate

If the Kingston school board wanted the public kept out of Jacquelin E. Opperman Memorial Library during school hours, school office staff may not have received the memo.

Glenna Ford, head librarian at the public library inside Kingston Junior/Senior High School, told board members Monday that public visitors still have entered the library during school hours even after the board changed the hours earlier this year.

“Why did the school board change library public hours when people who are in charge of pushing the button, to open the (school) door, are still letting people in without asking what their business is for coming in the school?” Ford said.

Rebecca Gaiser told the board she and Riley Murdoch, both 2016 graduates of Kingston High School, were allowed into the school May 9 even though the library was closed to the public – and students – at the time.

Rebecca Gaiser told the board she and Riley Murdoch, both 2016 graduates of Kingston High School, were allowed into the school May 9 even though the library was closed to the public – and students – at the time.

Upon questioning by Superintendent Matt Drake, however, Gaiser said she and Murdoch weren’t admitted to the school by an office staff member or office volunteer buzzing them in.

Gaiser said an adult was leaving the school and “just let us in,” but said an adult in the school office allowed them to sign in at 1:06 p.m. and make their way to the closed library.

“It’s not a huge issue but it does seem like an oversight where things could go wrong,” Gaiser told The Advertiser after the meeting.

Following board action in February, new hours for public use of the library are 4-6 p.m. Monday; 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. Saturday. The library is closed to public use on Friday and Sunday.

The library is open for students from 8 a.m.to 1 p.m. Monday and Thursday, and from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

“One board member mentioned that the change for library public hours was proactive to (protect) student safety, which everyone can understand with today’s times,” Ford told the board. “But this was just a move to cover the school board members in the event that something was to happen.

“The policy really should have been changed with the people who are in charge of letting anyone in the school. We have different students, throughout the day, that let people in. This is really not a job that students should be in charge of.”

Scott Neff, board vice president, told Ford she “kind of reaffirmed the need to tighten the security in the building” and thanked her for reporting the situation.

But Neff said Kingston Community Schools is in a “unique situation” operating a school library also used by the public.

“It would be nice if we had a public library downtown, but we just don’t,” Neff said. “There’s just a small handful (like the Kingston library).

“The one note that I wrote down is you said something to the effect of covering the board, that we did something to cover the board. I’m not supposed to take this job personally, but I’m offended by that. We did it for the safety of the kids.”

The situation figures to improve, however, “with the secure entrance that’s going to be done this summer” at the school, Neff said. Voters approved a 2017 bond issue financing the work and other projects.

Board members told Ford the school district has a policy governing admittance of visitors into the building, and that any student charged with that task receives training about the procedure.

Ford urged the board to re-examine who admits visitors. Board member Jason Koehler expressed a similar thought.

“I know there’s an adult in the office, but I almost think that maybe, beginning next year, we ought to look at something where we don’t have a kid – one of the students that works in the office – buzzing and allowing the doors to be opened,” Koehler said.

“Somebody that actually is on the payroll that can be held accountable – I think that’s something we really need to look at.”

The school board also:

■ Heard Drake report that a committee evaluating applications of 31 candidates for the junior/senior high principal’s job has trimmed the field to six candidates to be interviewed June 14. “At a minimum, I’d like to go from six down to two candidates after that,” Drake said.

■ Noted Dan Rayl was chosen in April as the board’s newest member after the board interviewed applicants for an open seat. Rayl must seek election in 2020 if he wishes to pursue a four-year term on the board at that time.

■ Heard Kingston Elementary School Principal Justin Diegel say he received about 20 resumes from candidates for a second-grade teaching position. Diegel hopes the successful candidate will be chosen by the end of this week, or early next week.

■ Learned six Kingston High School athletes qualified for June 1’s state track meet: Lily Lyons in the girls’ long jump, Quinn Boucard in the boys’ discus toss, and the boys’ 400-meter relay team of Trayton Wenzlaff, Hunter James, Nathan Cloyd and Levi Cryderman.

■ Congratulated Kingston High School senior Kerra Elling for her artwork. Elling, a freelance artist who creates graphite-pencil and colored-pencil drawings, showed two examples to board members and the public. “She takes advantage of (classes at) the Tuscola Technology Center and does a great job there,” said Mike Seaman, Kingston dean of students. Elling said she’s having her own website created to market her art. She has been hired by a client to draw illustrations, and said “I am self-employed now, and all because of the Tech Center.”

■ Heard Seaman report high-school teacher Melinda Freeland took her advanced-placement chemistry classes to five area farms and obtained soil samples. Freeland secured a grant for the project, which saw students take samples near Fostoria, Mayville and Kingston. “The students took the soil samples, brought them back to the school and ran tests on them, and then they sent out the other soil samples to a lab to compare their results to what they were getting for results here at the school,” Seaman said.

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com.

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