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School Safety High Priority at Joint CCUSD/ City of Culver City Meeting

The Culver City School Board and the Police Department say they are working with the City Council to establish additional protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of all CCUSD children in the wake of the Newtown, CT. shooting.

In its final meeting of the year the City of Culver City/Culver City Unified School District Liaison Committee convened to discuss items of mutual interest to the City and the district.

Here’s the rundown on a couple of items discussed at the meeting.

School Safety

In light of the Newtown, CT shooting the Liaison Committee discussed school safety in Culver City.  Both CCUSD Superintendent David LaRose and Police Chief Donald Pedersen updated the Committee on the steps the police department and school district are taking.

“I sat down with the Chief and his team yesterday,” LaRose said. “Part of this is beyond the emotional response, which is tragic and unfathomable. This drives an aggressive audit of what exists, what we're doing and the resources we have." 

“What we forget is this is a cold blooded murder and the victims are the most innocent and vulnerable in our society,” said Chief Pedersen. “I’m convinced we are better prepared than other departments. In fact, if this happened in our district we would have officers there in far less than two minutes. The response that I hear back from our officers, our regret is that we weren’t there.  There is no one in that building that's not willing to walk into that school and do what needs to be done."

The School Board and Police Department are working together, with the full support of the City Council, to establish protocols and procedures and work with the district to ensure the safety of Culver City's children, LaRose said. He also stated that there are plans to hold a community forum in late January to update the public fully on the protocols currently in place, to find out what they can further do hand in hand with the community and to address the larger issues surrounding the shooting such as mental health. 

Polystyrene Trays in Schools 

Vice Mayor Jeffrey Cooper and Councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells expressed concern over the use of polystyrene trays in schools.

“Studies show that polystyrene trays have carcinogens in them,” said Sahli-Wells. “I would like to see re-usable trays we can wash and use the next day.  Some have even suggested paper, but biodegradable that can go away.”

The immediate hurdles to using plastic trays or paper are the fiscal implications for the City, said Director of Food Service Julie Garcia, noting there currently isn’t any major dishwashing equipment on site at schools to wash plastic trays, and to buy the equipment needed and hire the staff is very expensive. Paper trays would also be expensive, she said.

However, Environmental Programs & Operation Manager for Culver City Damian Skinner said at the meeting the City is working towards a possible solution and will revisit the issue in the coming months. He added the City hopes to have researched all the possible options available to them, cost them out, and discuss further by the next meeting. 

The next City of Culver City/Culver City Unified School District Liaison Committee is scheduled for early March 2013.

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