New director of security and safety addresses Park Hill board

The Park Hill board of education heard an update on its school safety efforts and reduced the district’s tax levy by less than one cent at its regular meeting last week.

Much like other area districts facing an increase in assessed value, Park Hill was required to roll back its levy this year. In Missouri, such assessed valuation increases trigger a rollback of the allowable levy under the Hancock Amendment. Hancock prevents taxing entities from profiting from increased property values.

Park Hill’s total levy last year was set at $5.4035 per $100 assessed valuation. The Hancock rollback of almost one cent affects only the operational levy, leaving the debt levy unchanged at .6107 cents. The district’s new levy is $5.3955.

While agricultural real estate taxes declined, residential and commercial real estate and personal property tax revenues have increased over last year. Park Hill’s assessed value in 2017 was more than $1.6 billion with 2018 numbers coming in at $1.7 billion — a nearly $65 million increase.

The board heard from the district’s new director of safety and security, Chad Phillips, formerly of the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. Phillips was hired earlier this year as the district’s first dedicated safety administrator.

During the summer break, the district installed access control systems at all schools, updated the computerized visitor management system and improved overall security. At the high schools, the entryways were renovated to have security staff present during visitor check ins. Partnerships with local law enforcement was also expanded and additional school resource officers hired.

During the next phase of security upgrades, the district plans to expand the use of security cameras, provide threat assessment training to staff, implement an improved internal crisis communication system and other improvements. Beyond the next school year, the district plans to conduct a full safety and security audit and continue moving forward with additional safety programs as warranted.

The district’s new suicide prevention program was also discussed. Dr. Stephanie Amaya, director of professional studies, spoke on the partnership with Tri-County Mental Health Services to bring the national Signs of Suicide (SOS) depression screening program to the district.

The SOS program is targeted for students in sixth through 12th grade and works to reach all students, regardless of individual risk factors. Amaya said the program is designed to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders and promote learning and resiliency for all students.

All students in middle and high school will have the opportunity to participate in the program this year, with a parent night held prior to the program to provide information. Parents will be able to complete a form excusing their child from the SOS program if they so wish.