YORKVILLE – Yorkville School District 115 officials have taken the first steps towards adding more armed security personnel to help monitor school grounds within the district.
The Board of Education voted, 5-0, Monday evening, Aug. 19, at Yorkville High School to approve the district moving forward to eventually hire two safe security supervisors. Board members Gary Katula and Ashley Rhea Shields were absent from the meeting.
Superintendent Tim Shimp said district officials have been discussing the possibility of adding more armed personnel within the district since last fall. Even with the proposal to establish the safe school security program, he said, the district is still overseeing run, hide and fight training in the event of an active shooter.
“I don’t believe there’s anything more important right now than the mental and physical safety of our students and our staff and our schools," Shimp said. "If we want kids to learn and we want teachers to feel safe in an environment for teaching, then we need to make sure that we’re doing all that we can to make that possible.”
The vote comes after the proposal was discussed during one of the district's school board committee meetings on Aug. 5. According to board documents, the proposed program's overall purpose is to support the work that has already been done within the district safety-wise and to look for new and proactive ways to improve the safety of schools district-wide.
Board documents said the district would work closely with law enforcement to facilitate a vetting process for qualified applicants for the security supervisor positions. The supervisors would then help assess the district's current safety and security needs and help shape the second phase of the district's school safety, security and training program, which would include hiring security officers and determining where they will go within the district.
Shimp said the reason why the supervisors' contracts are 11 months each is to account for summer school overlap. Documents said the anticipated salary for a safe school security supervisor is between $45,700 and $59,000.
Lynn Burks, president of the school board, said a previous intergovernmental agreement between the school district and city's police department expired a few years ago.
"And we will be negotiating that and this could potentially be part of that discussion," Burks said.
Shimp said the anticipated hiring timeline is for the jobs to be posted beginning Wednesday, Aug. 21 and to hopefully begin interviewing candidates Sept. 9. He said he has reached out to Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, State's Attorney Eric Weis and Yorkville Police Chief Jim Jensen and asked them for their presence in those initial interviews or for someone from respective departments to sit in.
“Obviously, we’re educators, we don’t have the expertise that they do, but we certainly have the resources to partner,” Shimp said.
Shimp said the hope is to bring the candidates up for the positions for school board vote on Sept. 23. If the hiring timeline goes according to plan, the security supervisors would start the week of Sept. 26, according to district documents.
Robert Brenart, vice-president of the school board, said he commends Shimp on his approach to addressing the need for added safety and security within schools. He said he knows Shimp will make sure people who are hired will have the expertise, recurring training and are conditioned to handle those types of safety situations in the creation of the district's safe school security program.
Brenart said this really isn't something that can be pushed on anyone else to address. He said studies have shown that kids are feeling less and less secure in their schools.
"And certainly it’s going to impact their learning environment," Brenart said. "And that’s our job is to make sure they can learn but, more importantly, it's to make them feel safe.”