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Ringgold board agrees to hire security chief

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 1:43 a.m.

The Ringgold School District is receiving a boost in armed security at each of its buildings – along with a new chief of security.

But board member Chuck Smith accused his colleagues of “throwing under the bus” current director of security Tommy Thompson.

Thompson disagreed, saying he welcomed the help in securing the district.

“It's hard for one person to take care of this district,” Thompson said. “I want to be able to look at these people and tell them their kids are as safe as possible. We're all in it to make our kids as safe as possible.”

Superintendent Dr. Karen Polkabla said she would like the new chief of security to be a police officer with professional police training and the ability to issue citations or make arrests.

The new chief of security would earn $75,000 a year in wages and benefits, comparable to that which Thompson receives.

Director William Stein Jr. said Thompson has already made improvements to the district's security.

“In this day and age, we need a police force,” Stein said. “With 3,000 children and all of the other people – there are cities that are not as big as that.”

Director Chuck Smith, who voted against creation of the new position, said the administration was merely asked to oversee a review of security at district buildings.

He predicted Thompson's contract would not be renewed by the board when it expires.

“You think you can protect everyone, but you can't,” Smith said.

“Whether we like it or not, our world changed with Sandy Hook,” added board President Mariann Bulko referring to the mass shootings Dec. 4 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

In addition, the board agreed to hire armed security personnel at each building, with two at the high school.

The board approved salaries of $15.50 per hour for temporary security personnel who will be on duty only during the school day. Robert Boyer, David Carroll, Robert Dorcon and Joseph Winterbottom were added to the security staff.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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