Portsmouth School Committee moves forward with safety plan

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — The Portsmouth School Committee met for the first time Tuesday night since an intruder entered Portsmouth High School and assaulted a teacher. At the meeting, one of the items on the agenda was to discuss the school’s safety protocol.

Superintendent Ana Riley said the committee is moving forward with their safety capital budget plan for the next two school years. The proposal passes just two weeks after a former student forced his way into the Portsmouth High School gym.

The former student, 22-year-old Marcus Schlip, is facing multiple charges after he reportedly kicked a teacher before being arrested by the school resource officer.

Riley said the safety capital budget was part of the plan before the incident occurred, and the incident only accelerated the process. The plan is being approved year-by-year, and the first year’s measures have already been implemented after being passed in February of 2017. Now the district wants to act quicker to approve the next two years.

“We had one year, and we were going into just year two but we decided we can’t wait another year,” Riley said.

The proposal has three main parts, including having more safety officials on school property, providing training and awareness programs, and improving the buzzer system and security cameras in the schools.

“What this has done is really create that sense of urgency, it happened and we can’t ever let it happen again, and we really wanna move that process forward,” Riley said.

The proposal will cost $225,000. School board members said they hope to see all of the changes implemented by the end of the 2019 school year.

“The next part of our budget process is bringing the request to the town council that will happen in April, and then they will have to approve the ultimate funding,” Riley said.

School members said they plan to ask the town to help them get the improvements started as soon as possible.