City school board thinking security with MHS projects

The Marietta City Board of Education took the first step Monday toward a project that would improve security by gathering all Marietta High School students under one roof.

At its regular meeting in the district administrative offices, the board voted 5-0 to authorize the development of specifications and advertisement for bids for a project to build an addition on the Academy Drive side of the school and enclose the walkway between the main building and the gym and auditorium facility. Ideally, it would be completed by the fall.

“It’s probably one of the biggest things we could do in the district to improve security,” board President Greg Gault said.

The project had been discussed prior to the Dec. 14 murders of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but Superintendent Harry Fleming said that event “escalated” interest in the project.

The addition would allow for additional space so students do not have to go to the administration building for classes. Enclosing the walkway prevents them from having to go outside to access the auditorium and gym.

Together, those steps would allow access to be controlled since students would no longer need to enter and exit the building just to reach their everyday classes.

Fleming said an architect is still preparing options for the district’s building and grounds committee to consider so an estimated price is not yet available. The project would be paid for out of funds from the district’s permanent improvement levy.

In other business

The board unanimously approved the creation of a career exploration course at the high school. The semester-long, half-credit class would be required of all sophomores. It would include exams to determine what fields a student might be interested and do well in, a review of post-secondary education options and career-readiness opportunities like job-shadowing and learning skills like resume-writing, interviewing, banking and more.

“‘Survival skills’ would be another name for this course,” high school Principal Bill Lee said.

Lee’s outline of the course came at the end of a presentation by members of the Building Bridges to Careers collaboration between the district and the Washington County Family and Children First Council. Focused on improving career-readiness among students, participants discussed potential strategies like developing summer camp programs to expose students to specific career fields at earlier ages, reviving and redesigning the Partners in Education program that has fallen by the wayside in some cases and providing a clear path for students to learn about potential careers, take the necessary classes and gain experience in their fields of interest.