Marion County Deputy Sheriff Travis Wilson spoke to the USD 398 Board of Education Monday about donations for a new police dog.
He said his current partner has developed cataracts and arthritis and will need to retire at the age of 7 in two to three months before the dog goes completely blind. The retiring dog will live with Wilson and his wife.
Wilson has been the county canine handler for three and half years. He said it has been his priority to use the dogs to sniff for drugs in county schools.
The retiring dog was purchased with money from drug seizures and traffic stops. Wilson said that fund has been depleted paying for veterinary bills for the current dog.
Before Wilson started working for the sheriff’s department, USD 398 used a drug dog service from Oklahoma City. Board member Bruce Burke said the service cost the district more than $1,200 a year.
“Crime doesn’t happen if there is a police officer on the corner,” Superintendent Ron Traxson said. “The dog is used as a deterrent.”
Wilson plans to ask the USD 397 and 411 boards of education and Marion County Commission for donations. He has already attended a Peabody City Council meeting. Marion County Attorney Susan Robson has already donated. Wilson plans to purchase a Belgian Malinois trained in Longford. He is looking at a passive female, who when alerted with a scent of contraband will point instead of scratching or digging. The dog would cost $12,500, Wilson said. He did not ask for a specific amount from the board.
In other business:
- The board unanimously approved Peabody-Burns Junior High School seventh grader Devin Gaines to attend the FFA National Convention with five Peabody-Burns High School students. Traxson said the other PBJHS students interested in the trip dropped out of consideration. Six students was the maximum allowed by the district. Gaines met the requirement of being active in the FFA program for a year.
- The board planned an onsite retreat Nov. 5 to discuss district goals. Traxson had every staff member in the district fill out a form with the top four priorities for curriculum, personnel, school and community relations, student activities, operations, and capital outlay needs. The board will go through each form and select which priorities should be long term and short-term goals and then creating a chart to be posted around district schools.
- Traxson also gave a presentation during the meeting stressing the district goal of guiding students to post-secondary education. Part of that presentation addressed that the adequate yearly progress standard is disappearing after 2012 and the district will have to adjust to a new system.
- The board accepted a $750 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation for character education CDs and DVDs for Peabody-Burns Elementary School. The discs address topics such as bullying and making friends.
- The board accepted an audit report for the district.
- No action was taken after a 55-minute executive session discussing personnel.