Columbiana schools safety measure gains attention

COLUMBIANA–A new and unique safety measure being introduced in the Columbiana School District is gaining national attention.

The district began looking into Threat Extinguisher, a non-lethal self defense system, a few months ago and since announcing it would be used in the district, several news media outlets have shown an interest.

The district was featured on Fox News, MSN, and others, and Superintendent Don Mook said during the recent board of education meeting that CBS News plans to come to the district to film the system demonstration.

“Safety has been a huge, huge issue across the U.S. and it hasn’t been any different here. Parents want to know their kids are safe when they come to school,” he said.

Threat Extinguisher is an Ohio-based company that provides tactical pepper spray canisters similar in appearance to fire extinguishers that, when removed from their base, immediately send out an emergency alert to authorities and school staff, students, and even parents.

The alert also gives the location of the activated Threat Extinguisher so that responders know where the threat or emergency is, and others know where to stay away. The system also comes in a lanyard, which can be worn by school staff and students and activated by the press of a button.

“It’s a pretty big deal. It’s a non-lethal device and communication tool to help us mitigate an issue that might take place. It certainly gives us another tool to defend against (school violence),” Mook said.

Threat Extinguishers will be located throughout the school district, in both glass cases similar to fire extinguishers, and also on portable bases, in addition to the lanyards.

The pepper spray can be fired at distances of more than 20 feet and is two times stronger than law enforcement pepper spray, according to https://threatextinguisher.com. Threat Extinguisher can be used in schools, workplaces, churches and government offices.

The new system is only one aspect of the district’s multi-faceted approach to an increase in safety measures this year, including the recent hiring of a new school resource officer.

“We have so much more to offer this year than we did last year. I think our staff feels good about it and our community feels good about it,” Mook said.

Board President Kelly Williamson agreed.

“I think we are leaders in Columbiana and I am proud of what we are doing,” she said.

In other business, the board approved:

— The resignation of Ashley Perkins, aide/paraprofessional, effective Aug. 1.

— A supplemental contract for Kendal Rich as seventh-grade volleyball coach for the 2018-19 school year.

— A one-year supplemental contract for extended duty for Amanda Cleghorn as high school guidance counselor, up to 15 days at her per diem rate.

— Melissa Raub-Wollman as substitute support staff.

— A change in contract status from probationary to regular for Donna Louk, bus driver, Tammy Owens, elementary aide, Rhiannon Smith, elementary aide, Autumn Howell, crossing guard, and Danielle Schmidt, cook/cashier, Tammi Morris, custodian, Kelley Quigley, middle school cook/cashier, and Crystal Siembida-Boggs, high school media center aide.

— A change in salary for teachers Stephanie Baylor, Colleen Campbell, Meghan Houck, Kristin Huber and Julie McClish.

— Marge Armentrout, Paige Harris and Monica McDonough as athletic department game help.

— Cafeteria pricing for the 2018-19 school year, with lunch at Joshua Dixon Elementary set at $2.75 regular and 40 cents reduced, and lunch at the South Side Middle School and High School buildings set at $2.95 and 40 cents reduced. Milk for all buildings was set at 50 cents and breakfast for all buildings is $1 regular and 30 cents reduced.

— A first and second reading of the new policy revision and replacement regarding career advising.

The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 11.