STREETERVILLE — Security guards at Ogden International School will begin using a metal detector to search students at its West Campus every morning, starting as early as next month, school officials said Monday.
The junior high and high school campus at 1250 W. Erie St. recently acquired the walk-through metal detector and an X-ray machine to scan the bags of students and personnel entering the school in the mornings.
At a Local School Council meeting Monday at the school's East Campus in Streeterville, the board deferred a vote until its November meeting on how and when the machines would be used.
At the Nov. 25 meeting, the council will decide whether to scan all middle and high school students or a random number of students generated by a system used across the Chicago Public Schools.
That system "designates the position in line of each individual who may be subject to a random Metal Detector Screening," a system handbook outlines. "For example, if the number is five, every fifth person in line may be searched."
It's also possible the detectors will only be used for special events, LSC President Stanley Kusper said.
The issue was discussed in conjunction with two recent incidents where "drug paraphernalia" and "ammunition" were found near the school's East Campus at 24 W. Walton St., according to Cesar Ravelo, an Ogden security guard.
There has been "a recent increase we're now noticing in contraband that was left around the area," Ravelo said. Police were notified of both incidents, and the items were destroyed, Ravelo said.
Students at the East Campus, which serves students through fifth grade, were not believed to have been involved in the incidents, and there was no discussion of installing detectors at the school at 24 W. Walton St.
Parent and LSC member Karen Jones questioned why the detectors were needed at the West Campus since there were no reports of incidents there.
She voiced concerns that a bottleneck at the school entrance would make students late and possibly cause them to miss instruction time. The school opens at 7:45 a.m. for early arrivals, and high school classes start at 8 a.m., with the middle school day starting at 8:15 a.m. Roughly 800 students attend daily.
"My concern as a parent of a high schooler with this is the logistics of getting all these students in at the same time," Jones said. Not only could students miss class time, but students stalled at the gate could be marked late, and "those tardies lead to detention," she said.
The school has put in a request for a second metal detector, Kusper said.
The LSC also approved a payout of $15,191 in additional teacher pay from July, which significantly exceeded the allocated funding, a result of the school principal and vice principal's abrupt departure that month.
Tony Morales, the LSC's business operations manager who presented the itemized budget, said additional teacher pay was necessary "because we didn't have a principal, we needed more administrative help."
LSC Vice President David Ramos voted against allocating the funding to make a point about proper meeting protocol.
"We don't have a copy of this budgetary report," he said. "Here we are in October, and you're just bringing this to us. … These last-minute things coming up with money, I'm just not crazy about that. I'm tired of it, and it's got to stop."
Kusper noted that the budget, which required an immediate vote, was not even on the agenda for Monday's meeting.
"Proper documentation should be passed out to the council as soon as possible," Kusper said, noting that "my criticism is constructive." The budget ultimately passed.
The council also voted to advance the applications of eight candidates to replace former principal Kenneth Staral. The possibility of re-posting the job description for a third time will be put to a vote at the November meeting.