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NSB informed of fake social media post on gun at school

By Staff, 08/30/19 9:32 AM

ROSSTON – False information posted on Messenger found its way to Instagram and eventually to Facebook resulting in almost 200 students being kept home from school at Nevada Thursday.

Rick McAfee, Nevada superintendent, talked about the incident at the August meeting of the Nevada School Board Thursday night, saying a Facebook post warned parents to keep their children at home because someone had been spotted near the school carrying a rifle with a scope. The end result was 42 percent of the students were kept home because of the misinformation. This came on the heels of another internet hoax claiming Thursday was also supposed to be school shooting day in Arkansas. The hoax also claimed Wednesday was school shooting day in Kentucky, however, no school shootings occurred on either day in either state.

McAfee said the woman who’s account it was denied making the post. The incident, though, is being investigated by the Arkansas State Police, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office along with other agencies. Warrants have been obtained to search the woman’s computers email and Facebook accounts. The perpetrator could be charged with terroristic threatening. “This is something we won’t put up with,” McAfee told the board. “The NCSO is aware of the false reporting of the incident and it’s being investigated. Deputies were posted at the schools. The information put out is a criminal matter and will be treated accordingly.” He added, the district will ask the person guilty be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

He said some parents would like there to be single access entry to the school, but this would cost the district around $500,000. There are currently 10 entry points to the school now. Trying to do this now would require the district to do something it’s never done – seek a millage increase. “I’m not sure voters would pass a millage increase to pay for it,” he said. A petition is circulating around the district concerning single-point access. McAfee said he supports their effort.

He pointed out in two years the district will be debt free and if the voters will allow the district to keep the current millage rate, 34 mill, then it could afford to have single-point access installed. He reminded the board there’s been no problem with guns at the school for 32 years, but added this is a different world. “We take the job of having a safe location for the students to go to school seriously,” he said, “and we take pride in our record of safety.”

In other business, the board approved a resolution to pay those whose duties changed their pay by five percent or more. This involved about six employees.

Tonda Pennington, Nevada Elementary School principal, said there are 186 students in Nevada High School and 213 in NES, up from the 192 at the end of last year. She told the board the year is off to a great start and teachers are working on essential standards while administrators are working on the literacy plan.

McAfee said everything is going well with the literacy plan, with the district using the RISE program and getting more specific in how reading is being taught. He pointed out 80 percent of the students score proficient in English, but only 40 percent are proficient in Reading. The problem, he continued, adding this is something he doesn’t like, is the students are being tested to death and as reading is at the end of the testing, they’re overtested by the time they test in this subject and are worn out. “The state needs to understand what’s going on. It’s testing these kids to death.”

The district ended the year in better financial condition than expected and will continue working to maintain the balance within the limits of the law. He said the last legislative session saw a decision made where districts getting growth funds can’t get special needs transportation funding and this will cost Nevada about $107,000 as the district added more students. He said this will hurt because the district had to add two new teachers this year and could have used the special needs transportation funds.

In discussing the 2017-18 audit, McAfee said the only issue found was segregation of duties, something found in every audit because the district doesn’t have enough staff handling things. He lauded Christy McMullin, saying she does a great job.

The board approved Dwight Jones Insurance to provide insurance for students in the district for the next two years.

The panel also approved the federal program statement of assurances, which basically means the district will follow all guidelines and regulations in the use of federal monies received. This year, McAfee said, districts are required to provide a written description on how all federal funds are spent in the budget. Nevada, he told the board, has had its plan approved and was one of the first 10 schools in the state to get it submitted.

The board added one professional development session to its list. Seven people will be sent to Las Vegas Nov. 19-22 to participate in the National School Safety Conference. Federal funds, McAfee said, will be paying for the trip. Those attending will hear from the superintendents where school shooting have occurred and learn what they did and how they dealt with it. “This is the premier school safety workshop in the country,” he said, “and they’ll come back with some good ideas.”

In the final act of business, the board approved hiring two teachers for this year.

McAfee said the district will have an active shooter program this year with students present.