By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun
The South Fork Union School District held its monthly board meeting on Thursday, March 14.
The board continued is ongoing discussion with MOT manager Ron Ferris about additional security measures in light of a recent break-in.
For fencing at the middles school, Ferris reported that previous estimates for the job started at $46,000. Because of the high cost, the board requested more research, as the campus is exposed to wind and weather that make fencing specifications a requirement before a decision can be made.
“I would love to see this campus secured,” said Board Member Mike Morgan.
Much of the board’s security discussion has also involved the installation of cameras and motion sensors.
When Ferris researched motion sensor systems from TelTech, he found that installation would cost over $35,000 for both campuses, and monitoring would be an additional $335 a month.
The board felt this system was not ideal. It can be affected by any motion, and it does not provide video surveillance when an alert is made. Therefore, if the system alerted staff, they would be unable to tell whether the alert was worthy of calling the Sheriff’s Office.
Instead, the board favored installing additional security cameras and lights. They approved the use of surveillance by Ring security systems, which send alerts to an administrator’s phone and allow them to access the video at any time.
The cost is much lower as well. Ferris reported that the cameras cost about $250 apiece, with only an additional $35 per year for the app for each administrator who is to have access by phone.
“Hopefully next meeting, we can show them to you in action,” said Ferris.
Board Member Daures Stephens gave an update on his work towards a quicker response time in the event of an active shooter. Stephens said that according to Assemblyman Devon Mathis, receiving a dedicated deputy for rural schools like South Fork is unlikely. Additionally, staff and board members are not allowed to arrive on campus with firearms under current state law, even in defensive circumstances.
Stephens said that Mathis suggested that the board speak to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer about dismissing such an incident should this type of defense become necessary.
“He said that was the quick cure,” said Stephens.
On a lighter note, the school is eligible for a new Kindergarten classroom via the Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant program. The grant, worth $850,000, would pay for a classroom, and funds would be available as early as fall.
Another option available is the State School Facility Program (SFP), which Superintendent Kim Kissack-Villani said the school may be eligible for up to $2.2 million. Only the Fay Ranch campus would be eligible for this grant, and it would go toward general upgrades. This grant will require a longer process, as Villani said it may take up to 2 years to start seeing funding.
Next month’s meeting at South Fork will take place on Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at the Kelso Valley campus cafetorium. As always, the public is encouraged to attend.