WAPAKONETA — Wapakoneta school district voters will consider a five-year, 1 mill additional levy on May 7. The $400,000 raised per year by the passage of the levy would enhance security at the school district’s buildings and pay for training.
For a $100,000 home, it’s $35 a year. With a $400,000 home, it’s $140 a year.
“These have become more commonplace lately but are still, I think, fairly new to people in terms of it being a school levy,” said Aaron Rex, superintendent of Wapakoneta schools.
“When there’s a threat at a school or a shooting at a school we all talk about ‘What else can we do’ and so this is us saying ‘Here’s something else we can do’ and you know you can never put student’s safety at risk. It’s the highest priority, keeping kids safe, and so all of this money will be spent on that,” said Rex.
The money would be used in a variety of ways to protect students and staff.
“Right now at Wapak schools, we have one school resource officer. We split that cost with the city and we have four school buildings with 3,300 kids. He could be in one building and we have to call him to maybe go to Cridersville or we call him to go to the high school,” he said.
Rex said they want to hire three more resource officers.
Part of the money will go toward hiring people that can help students deal with mental health issues.
“We are going to hire an additional mental health counselor. Right now we have one for the district and so this would give us two,” he said.
The remaining money would be spent on updates for security.
“All of our buildings have cameras but they’re all around 10 years old and so over time those servers and the technology becomes outdated. We would look at upgrading things like the servers for our camera systems and purchasing a building-wide alert system,” said Rex.
Having an upgraded alert system will allow better communications in case of an incident.
“Right now when you alert people, you generally do that over the intercom and that’s not always ideal. We have some quotes out there to put in a system that would notify students in a variety of manners. For example, (a message) would pop up on every computer screen and every phone. If there would be a lockdown or we’re having to alert people for an active shooter, (messages would appear on) your phones, your desktops. There would be strobes in the hallways. There would be panels that would have a message saying what the alert is for,” he said.
No organized opposition has raised questions about the need for the levy. A community-wide survey with 650 responses was done in the fall, Rex said, and almost 90% of the people said they would support more resource officers with an additional tax levy.
“As a parent of a child of a child in the district, I haven’t heard anybody say anything that they wouldn’t support it because these are your kids,” Rex added.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.