Christian County School Board Focuses On School Safety

A review of school safety, a summer calendar and the state’s creation of an early graduation program were the main topics of discussion during Thursday night’s Christian County Public Schools Workshop.

In his report to the board, Superintendent Chris Bentzel relayed that the past year for CCPS included the following:

— 13 full-time school resource officers
— 15 volunteer and state-mandated risk assessments at each school
— A bevy of safety drills
— 187 new cameras installed
— All cameras on campus becoming IP based
— New doorbell cameras currently being installed
— Volunteer safety audits completed at Hopkinsville and Christian County High School
— Student ID’s and lanyards implemented at the middle and high schools for tardies and lunches
— New weapons detection devices installed at CCHS, HHS and Bluegrass Academy, used both at Prom and Graduation
— And new contracts completed with Hopkinsville Police Department and the Christian County Sheriff’s Department

Bentzel, under questioning from Board Chair Tom Bell, said weapon detection will be standard procedure at football and basketball games, and that both high schools are “exploring” entry points to campus buildings that will keep moving the systems to a minimum.

A no-bag policy that was used for graduation, Bentzel said, worked well. And may be used again.

Furthermore, with Josh Hunt’s move to McCracken County Public Schools as superintendent, a new administrator is being brought on board to assist with safety coordination, the comprehensive safety plan, as well as Title IX.

It’s Kathleen Carter, who is returning to the fold with 20-plus years of experience, and who retired in 2018 as principal of Sinking Fork Elementary School.

For the 2023-24 school year, Bentzel said he and Carter would like to see these things come to fruition:

— The addition of an SRO to Gateway’s campus, bringing the district to 14
— The continuing of all previous safety standards
— The implementing of ID printers at the middle and high schools, to expedite replacement and new student badgets
— Continued work on funding sources, in order to match grants for weapons detection systems at the middle schools
— And the embracing of RAVE Mobile, an emergency notification system for CCPS employees, in the form of texts/calls/emails

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction/Elementary Jessica Addison, meanwhile, described a stuffed summer for the district.

Summer school for credit recovery, she said, begins June 5. It will last three weeks until June 22, run Monday-Thursday and involves 41 students from Hopkinsville and 78 from Christian County.

Gifted & Talented Camp is in its second year and is taking place next week Monday-Thursday for grades fourth through eighth. More than 70 students have been accepted.

Gateway Academy is also hosting a STEM camp for grades upcoming fourth through sixth, and with more than 40 kids enrolled, Addison noted there’s room for 50 or more students seeking knowledge of rockets, aerospace and other similar subjects.

Two elementary schools are also embracing summer school. South Christian will be holding eight days of remedial work, while Freedom Elementary will be hosting an experience-based and project-based learning station. She said 42 students, all third through fifth grade, will be learning about food sources from the farm to the table — and will close their efforts with a meal that showcases their learning with families.

Five CCPS teachers will be doing tutoring at the Hopkinsville Boys & Girls Club. It’ll be June 12 through July 21, Mondays through Thursdays.

Addison did confirm their summer feeding program will look a little different this summer and beyond, based on brand-new federal regulations.

Board members also unanimously passed the state’s new Early Graduation Program, which is an optional pathway in which a student may receive a high school diploma, Early Graduation Certificate and scholarship award from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) upon successful completion of all program requirements in three academic years or less.

The scholarship award may be used at a Kentucky public two (2) year community and technical college or a Kentucky four (4) year public or non-profit independent institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Following 30 minutes of discussion, officials stated this might work best for students seeking early military status, early tech/vocational learning opportunities, or other unique means.

Early graduation under hardship has been in play for years.