McGraw BOE discusses school safety

McGraw High School. (Photo Source: Chelsea Horak of The Cortland Voice).

The McGraw Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met on June 2 to discuss end-of-the-year business.

The BOE will have its organizational meeting for the 2022-2023 school year at 6:30 p.m. July 14.

School Safety

A major topic was safety in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting in Texas. All personnel from teachers, custodians, and administrators have met to discuss new concerns and current policies involving security at the school.

BOE president Tony Opera is already in talks with the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office to have more of a visible presence at the school, including having officers make regular visits and drive bys. One concern stemming from Uvalde is key access, and the board learned that the sheriff’s office and multiple on-site staff have the keys that would be needed to access school areas quickly in an emergency.

The school has many safety measures in place, including classroom doors which lock without keys and various drills to assess adherence to existing policies. Drills include checking for propped doors and seeing if staff or students will grant access to someone knocking from outside.  It has been proposed that any staff seen propping a door open would lose their job due to the egregious safety concerns. Students and teachers have been meeting to go over the results of the drills and ensure everyone’s understanding of the safety plans.

McGraw Superintendent Melinda McCool attended a virtual special committee meeting to discuss what is needed from the county to address student safety.

McCool brought up that $100,000 had been previously allocated by the county to entice mental health professionals to the area, but that positions had not yet been filled. She expressed her desire for answers as to why that has yet to happen. It is believed that more proactive mental health resources are needed, with counselors who can meet with students both within the school system and at home.

Even Playing Fields 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, a concern was raised over the maintenance of the softball and baseball fields. While both areas host varsity teams, the maintenance management is split by the school and the village of McGraw.

There is concern that the softball field is falling into disrepair compared to the baseball field.  The village and the district have a cooperative relationship, and conditions of both fields will be reviewed to determine what changes may be needed.

Planning Ahead

The board formally adopted the budget which was accepted by voters on May 17, including the purchase of two buses and end-of-year allocation of funds. An architect for the emergency repairs to the school has been selected, and those plans are moving forward as well.  

The end of the school year always brings changes, and that includes personnel. The BOE accepted the resignation of several staff members, including Library Media Specialist Danielle Fish, Nurse Heather Wilcox, and Keyboard Specialist Kristy Forkey.

McGraw will also be welcoming three new teachers next year: Kara Hallett, Amanda Fox and Bradley Andrews. The BOE also approved an extension of one year to superintendent McCool’s contract, with her term now set to conclude in 2027.