Plans to enhance school safety for students at all sites in the Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) were discussed at the Feb. 19 meeting of the district’s governing board.

The board had held a special workshop on Feb. 12, open to the public, to meet with architect Jimmy Sanders regarding improving safety in numerous ways at each campus, but board member Norman Guith expressed surprise that no one but the board showed up.

“I was disappointed that we just had the board there,” Guith said. “We had no community members, no principals, no teachers, no classified – nobody but the board. It was a great meeting because we had the architect there and had information and so forth.”

“Maybe we didn’t advertise it well,” he suggested. “It was a very productive meeting, I thought — very well done.”

As reflected in the minutes from the special workshop, Sanders’ presentation highlighted seven areas recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: security/emergency management; security force; entry control (control of visitor access); fencing and gates (gates at each entrance); parking and barriers; building envelope; and video surveillance.

Sanders specifically emphasized improvements that can be made to visitor control and fencing at Palo Verde High School (PVHS) and all three elementary schools.

The board discussed at length access to all school campuses and the policy for locked doors. A decision was made to begin gathering information regarding the policy for access to locked doors from legal sources and other districts along with meeting with stakeholders.

Another board workshop will be planned after the information is gathered to discuss developing policy regarding site doors and to plan a community meeting regarding school safety.

In the meantime, architectural renderings regarding changes to school sites are on display at the District Administrative Center, 295 N. First St. in Blythe.

Three other presentations at the Feb. 19 meetings called special attention to various students. Eighth-grader Alexia Figueroa, from Felix J. Appleby Elementary School, was introduced by her principal, Karina De La Pena, as elementary level student of the month for February (see separate article in this issue of the Times).

The top three winners from the PVUSD’s Feb. 4 spelling bee were also introduced by competition coordinator Diana Vibanco. Antonio Barron, a fourth-grader at Felix J. Appleby Elementary School, took the top prize and will now advances to the Riverside County Spelling Bee on March 19 in Moreno Valley. Ruth Brown Elementary School seventh-grader Xarra Mejia came in second and fellow Ruth Brown eighth-grader Bethany Castillo came in third.

Four members of the PVHS Yellow Jackets JROTC Battalion gave an informative presentation on the proper disposal of aging or damaged American flags and invited everyone at the board meeting to attend their flag retirement ceremony at 8 a.m., Saturday, March 30, at Blythe’s American Legion Post 24, 137 N. Ash Avenue.

The PVUSD Governing Board meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the District Administrative Center. The public is welcome to attend.

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