O’Fallon District 90 has a new director of safety and security — Mark Berry. However, he won’t start his new job until he retires from the O’Fallon Police Department, where he’s served the community of O’Fallon for the last 28 years.
Superintendent Carrie Hruby said the district had been looking at security needs of its seven school buildings and administrative office building.
“We’ve been looking at ways to improve our security across the district,” she said, “and making sure we are aligned to best practices.”
The district realized that it needed someone — “a subject matter expert” — to come in and give the district a vision on what it can do to improve, Hruby said.
“What areas we can address first that will give us the best response for where we put any funding that we might have available,” she said, “whether it’s looking at our camera systems ... or entries to our buildings or even procedures on how we have visitors enter the buildings.”
The director of safety and security will also oversee staff training, according to Hruby. “Our goal is to be a very safe and secure district for students, but also for staff,” she said. “That’s always our priority.”
Berry, 49, a police captain, retires from the police department on Oct. 31, which will also be his first day on the job at District 90.
“I have always looked at what my role could be after I retire as a police officer,” Berry said. “When this position became available, it was a very interesting position, but it still dealt with safety and security.”
Over the years, he said he developed a “very good relationship” with all the schools in O’Fallon. He served as a D.A.R.E. officer for three years.
Berry will earn a salary of $60,000 for his 210-day contract. “The goal was to make sure the director of safety and security was here during the school day, during the school calendar,” Hruby said, “as well as give an opportunity for some summer days or during breaks so policies can be written and things like that.”
Berry’s salary will be paid out of the district’s tort fund. “The tort fund is a restricted fund that can only be used for risk management purposes,” said Hruby, who expects the school board will renew the contract every year.
My mission doesn’t change. ... My mission of providing security and safety to the community of O’Fallon, now it just narrows to District 90.
Mark Berry, District 90’s new director of safety and security
Under his contract, Berry is eligible for health insurance for himself and his family. For the remainder of the year, the district shall pay $620 per month toward employee-only insurance, $840 per month toward employee plus spouse/child, or $918 per month toward full family medical insurance available through the district’s group insurance carrier, according to the contract. The director of safety and security also receives a $100 monthly cell phone stipend.
Berry, who lives in Shiloh, described O’Fallon District 90 as “progressive” for the superintendent and the school board to have the vision to hire a director of safety and security. The district currently has no school resource officers.
When he starts his new job, Berry said his initial goal is to do a “complete safety audit” of all the schools in District 90. He looks forward to working with the principals who are at the schools everyday.
“It definitely needs to be a team effort,” he said.
Berry will look at “what are the things that are working well and what are our opportunities ... cameras, safety procedures, crisis plans,” he said. “All of those things that deal with the complete safety protocol of all the schools.”
Berry will also serve as a liaison between the district and the police department if a crisis situation were to occur. “Having a liaison between our school district and the police department that truly understands law enforcement and understands what we can and cannot share,” Hruby said. “In times of crisis should something happen, it’s going to be really important that we have a leader in that area.”
The liaison, she said, would help determine what information the district can share with parents in a timely manner. “We know parents want to know immediately what’s happening and have as much information as possible,” Hruby said.
Berry will be stationed throughout the district. Hruby said school principals are currently determining a “landing place” at each of the schools where Berry can work.
“My goal is to create a high profile,” Berry said. “The superintendent agrees that with my position I need to make my presence known at all the schools and the district office and make those connections as much as possible.”
Berry is looking forward to starting a new challenge.
“My mission doesn’t change. ... My mission of providing security and safety to the community of O’Fallon, now it just narrows to District 90,” he said. “I will be able to work with the staff in District 90 and especially interact with the students and provide a better sense of safety for the schools, which I think the parents will appreciate as well.”