The Cartersville City School Board made its schools safer Monday night by approving two new campus safety measures and also adopted the tentative 2018-19 consolidated budget.
Board members voted 7-0 to ratify a contract to purchase a 2-year-old Belgium Malinois patrol dog named Hart for the high school as well as eight to 12 weeks of training with on-site accommodations for its handler from Ruidoso Malinois in New Mexico for $20,000.
The as-yet unnamed handler — a deputy from the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office — and the multipurpose patrol dog, which came from the Czech Republic, will provide a second full-time law enforcement officer on duty every day at the high school.
"There's not anything that you can't look at that would be, in my judgment, a reasonable strategy to make our schools safe, and we're trying to do that," Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley said. "And one of the issues at the high school is that it's large, and it's an open campus. So with your suggestion that we investigate having a second officer and patrol dog that would be a multipurpose patrol dog, I think that's a good suggestion. … I believe this will be advantageous to the high school."
Training for the handler would begin immediately so he and Hart could be on the high school campus the first day of school, which is Aug. 8, Hinesley said.
Board members also unanimously approved ratifying the contract with the BCSO to provide Hart's handler, with the school district paying the annual salary and benefits of the assigned deputy and the department providing his/her patrol car, uniforms, weapons and all training not related to the job of dog handler.
Hinesley said the amount of the contract will depend on the deputy who's chosen to be the handler.
The board unanimously approved 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.
Basically, a geo-fence will be installed just outside the perimeter of each school, and employees voluntarily can add to their personal phones the alert system app that will allow them to immediately call 911 in an emergency while also alerting every Cartersville police officer and BCSO deputy of the cell phone's exact location.
The app also would enable teachers to immediately summon an administrator should a situation in their classroom get out of hand.
"I believe this will go a long way in giving some comfort level for immediate response beyond what we currently have," Hinesley 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.
No one came to the public meeting to speak about the fiscal year 2019 budget so board members unanimously approved the tentative consolidated budget of $53,759,647, which includes a general fund budget of $41,109,000 as well as special revenue, school nutrition and capital projects, according to Finance Committee Chairman Tim Chason.
The general fund budget is up from $39 million last year, primarily due to a state-mandated increase in the Teacher Retirement System and step increases for eligible employees.
The final budget will be adopted Monday, June 11, at 6 p.m. in the central office board room at 15 Nelson St.
Board members recognized 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 — and Jim Pennington from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University presented a plaque to Hinesley for his support of the Cartersville/ERAU Aviation Academy at the high school.
In other business, the board unanimously approved:
• Low bidder Yates Painting in Fairburn for painting at the elementary and high schools at a cost of $112,912.
• 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.
• A budget amendment to transfer $168,000 from contingency to major maintenance.
• Fleetwood Security and Electronic Services Inc. in Cartersville for the CCTV upgrade at the high school for the low bid of $168,000.