Cartersville school board considers patrol dog

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The Cartersville City School Board will consider approving two additional safety measures to protect students and staff members as well as adopting the tentative 2018-19 consolidated budget at its meeting Monday night.

Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley will recommend ratifying a contract to purchase a 2-year-old Belgium Malinois patrol dog for the high school as well as eight to 12 weeks of training with accommodations for its handler from Ruidoso Malinois in New Mexico for $20,000.

“The idea came from the school board to pursue this and look into it,” he said, noting a local former dog trainer recommended the "quite impressive” New Mexico trainer.

Included in the contract, Hinesley said, is the cost of the dog, which came from the Czech Republic and is named Hart; training for the handler, who will be a deputy from the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, at the New Mexico facility; and accommodations at an on-site apartment, where he/she will live with Hart during the training.

Hinesley said he hadn’t been notified of which BCSO deputy had been chosen as the handler.

“The sheriff [Clark Millsap] has been interviewing and has four good applicants,” he said. “He said that all four were very well-qualified and were really interested in it. He’s very, very comfortable with the applicants that he has.”

Hinesley said the trainer, who has provided dogs for numerous school districts and law enforcement agencies, told him that Hart “has a good temperament for working with students.”

Training for the handler will begin “as soon as he can get out there,” and the goal is to have the dog ready to start patrolling the high school campus on the first day of school, the superintendent said, noting he also will be used at the other schools if needed.

This will give the high school two full-time officers on duty each day, he added.

Dr. Kevin McElwee at Cartersville Animal Hospital has volunteered to provide free vet care, except for medications, for Hart, Hinesley said.

The superintendent also recommended ratifying the contract with the BCSO to provide the handler for the school district, which will pay the actual salary and benefits of the assigned deputy. The department will provide his patrol car, uniforms, weapons and all training not related to his job of dog handler.

“The contract specifies that there will be no pulling [the deputy] during school time or he can’t take vacation during that time,” Hinesley said. “The sheriff can’t provide training during that time. Of course, when we’re not in session, he’ll be available for other use.”

He also said he wouldn’t know the amount of the contract until the handler had been chosen.

Hinesley added Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor approved the contract Wednesday.

The superintendent also will recommend approving a contract with Guard 911 Alert System to provide an emergency response system that automatically dials 911 and simultaneously activates a Social Protection Network of local law enforcement offices.

“We’re excited about this,” Hinesley said, noting it was recommended by the Cartersville Police Department, the BCSO and a parent who’s an FBI agent. “A geo-fence will be established [around each school], and once that’s established, each employee will have an opportunity for an application on their personal phone – it will be voluntary – then they will have the capability of immediately calling 911. Not only will it go directly to 911 the need to come immediately to the location where the cell phone is, it will communicate directly with every police officer and every sheriff’s deputy in Bartow County.”

The app also would enable teachers to immediately summon an administrator should a situation in their classroom get out of hand, Hinesley added.

“It’s something that gives us an additional tool to make our employees feel safer and also to show a collaboration with local law enforcement,” he said.

The cost to set up a geo-fence around the four schools and the pre-K center will be $1,000 per site, and the monthly charge for the service will be $99 per site.

The board will have a public meeting on the tentative consolidated budget of $53,759,647, which includes an operating budget of roughly $41 million as well as capital projects, federal funding and food services, Finance Committee Chairman Tim Chason said.

The operating budget is up from $39 million last year due to a state-mandated increase in the Teacher Retirement System, step increases and an increase in the number of teachers at the high school.

The final budget will be approved at the June meeting. 

Board members will recognize the system’s four Teachers of the Year: Leighanne Young from the primary school, Shannon Dietrich from the elementary school, Sara Bright from the middle school and Dr. Kim Foster from the high school.

Jim Pennington from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University also will present a plaque to Hinesley for his support of the Cartersville/ERAU Aviation Academy at the high school.

In other business, the superintendent will recommend:

·      Approving low bidder Yates Painting in Fairburn for painting at the elementary and high schools at a cost of $112,912.

·      Approving low bidder Gilreath Carpets in Cartersville for carpeting at the elementary school at a cost of $12,800.

·      Awarding the bid for food trays for the summer feeding program to sole bidder Form Plastics for $23,416.05.

·      Approving a budget amendment to transfer $250,000 from contingency to major maintenance.

·      Approving Fleetwood Security and Electronic Services Inc. in Cartersville for the CCTV upgrade at the high school for the low bid of $168,000.

The regular business meeting will be Monday at 6 p.m. in the central office board room at 15 Nelson St.