By DREW HOWARD
Leaders from Rochester and Rochester Hills discussed school safety, new school programming and the biggest issues facing the community at the 2018 Community Outlook Breakfast on Feb. 23.
Hosted by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Community Outlook Breakfast is an annual event that highlights developments in the community.
This year’s event featured four speakers: Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, Rochester Mayor Rob Ray, Rochester Community Schools Superintendent Robert Shaner, and Oakland Township Supervisor Mike Bailey.
Speakers first addressed the recent Parkland massacre in Florida, including how local schools can better prepare themselves for such a scenario.
Superintendent Shaner spoke specifically on the issue of arming teachers and staff members. “I would offer that before we make a decision, we consider the enormous logistical problem it creates in terms of liability, training and a willingness for people who want to do that,“ Shaner said. “I would really urge people to avoid applying a simple solution to a very, very complex issue.”
Bailey agreed with Shaner that there’s “not one solution,” and said he likes President Trump’s approach to the crisis. “I like what Trump is doing – he’s understanding what went wrong,” Bailey said. “This is clearly a complex problem, and clearly there were a lot of things that didn’t go right.”
Shaner also commented on two significant developments in the Rochester Community School District, the first being the expansion of the district’s preschool programming. He announced the district purchased a 40,000 square foot building at the corner of the Rochester and Gunn roads that will serve children ages 0 – 6.
“By the expanding of our district’s preschool and daycare programming and offering year-round extended operations, we can better serve the needs of our families residing within the Rochester Community School district boundaries,” Shaner said.
Rochester Community Schools will also launch a string program starting at the sixth-grade level, which is set to include the violin, viola, cello and double bass. The program was recently approved by the district’s board of education on Monday, Feb. 12.
The panel moderator later asked Bailey what he believes is the “toughest” issue facing the Oakland County, which he thinks is its “fledgling” fire department. Bailey explained that additional emergency staff may be required to meet the needs of Oakland County’s ever-growing population.
He noted that Oakland County is unofficially moving from a rural to suburban designation. “We are trying to figure out short-term, mid-term and long-term solutions,” he said. “It’s not going to be an inexpensive venture to add to our staff if that’s what we determine necessary, also relative to adding additional ALS ambulances.”
Panelists also discussed diversity & inclusion, repairs needed for the Rochester Community House, and a controversy over a new daycare facility during the event. To watch the panel in full, visit the “RochesterHillsTV” YouTube page.