BAR HARBOR — In sharp contrast to similar meeting a year ago, only fourteen people turned out for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System’s public forum on school safety and security at MDI High School Tuesday night. The group included nine administrators including five principals, two school board members, two parents and one reporter.
The principals each gave a brief overview of what their schools have done in the past year to increase security. Those measures include facility and technology improvements such as keyless entry systems, the adoption of new procedures, teacher and staff training and communication with students and parents.
Several of the principals talked about lock-down drills that have been held at their schools. Trenton Elementary School Principal Mike Zboray, whose school is the only one in the district with a pre-kindergarten class, said, “The cool thing for me is doing those drills with 4-year-olds; it’s an interesting adventure. They have lots of questions. But, boy, when you ask them to do something, they do it very well and quietly.”
Tremont Consolidated School Principal Jandrea True said the lockdown drills at her school have gone well.
“The kids really know what to do, and it’s been nice to see that any stress or anxiety around that seems to have dissipated. Last year I had some kids, particularly in the middle school [grades], who had more questions and felt a little bit more anxious. Even knowing it was a drill, they felt a little uneasy about it. And this year it’s just kind of part of what we do, like a fire drill.”
Both of the parents at the forum asked questions and made comments about school safety and security. One of them, Kendra Rand, told the school principals and other administrators, “To be able to learn from you all and to listen to these kinds of insights is so appreciated. My sense is that the schools in this district are really hitting the mark with including thoughtfulness from the community and from parents, and it shows.”
This was the third public forum on safety and security that the school system has held since the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida just over a year ago. The first forum, on March 6, 2018, was attended by nearly 150 people. The second, on May 10, drew about 45 people, nearly half of whom were school personnel.