Board members, authorities talk school safety

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham County Board of Public Education members met Thursday with Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence and police chiefs from around Chatham County to discuss making schools a safe environment for students and employees.

They discussed district initiatives and changes for the coming year. They also got an update from law enforcement agencies on community safety and security issues that could carry over into schools; and discussed suggestions for increasing communication and cooperation.

There were concerns about elementary school gangs.  Schools will be working with the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department's gang unit.

Board member Lori Brady said truancy seems to be growing at the elementary school level because Windsor Forest-area students have been seen walking around during school hours.  Brady said she has concerns about the number of students around the school who are truant.

There were also concerns raised about traffic around Thunderbolt Elementary and Johnson High School and whether early release should be considered.

School board president Dr. Joe Buck said he has traffic concerns about Hesse Elementary School when dump trucks are going back and forth.

Superintendent Thomas Lockamy said they several changes this year. He said Garrison Elementary School will have 900 students and Godley Station's new school has more than 1,000 students.

He said they are going to need help handling traffic because it will be different this year.

Buck asked if there is anything they can do better in working with police chiefs and the sheriff.

SCMPD Chief Willie Lovett said the department has officers all over the county and they should not to hesitate to call for help. Principals plan to call on captains and meet with them.

"It's extremely important because here is where we actually find out what's going. You know what's going on in one area but very seldom do you have the opportunity to meet with everybody and know what's going on throughout Chatham County,"said Lovett.

"It was really refreshing to hear all the communities coming together so our school are safe and secure when we open the doors Aug 30th. We are excited about that and for the first time we have a plan,"said Lockamy.

Operations officer Otis Brock said they are stepping up with emergency plans and try to make as realistic as possible so students and staff are prepared for emergencies.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.