During their meeting on Jan. 28, the Scottsboro City Board of Education discussed changes to the school system's improvements to the Internet connection for the school system, an annual state required audit and the potential for new security measures.

During the meeting, Tony LaRue, the school system's technology director, said that the school system's wired networking would undergo an upgrade that is part of a four-year contract to upgrade the system. This is the third year of a four-year contract and will cover replacement of networking equipment during in the Junior High and High School.

This will bring the school system up to a new standard for wired internet connection and this will cost a total of $40,229, with the school system required to pay $12,069 for the school system.

The last time this equipment had been replaced, according to Larue, was in 2008.

A proposal to utilize the Alabama Supercomputer Authority was also presented the board. This would switch who is providing the service through the Scottsboro Power Board.

The school system would not see an increase in speed, thought the total year price would drop from roughly $20,000 to just under $8,000 per year; however, school board members noted that they were not as concerned with the cost but instead had issue with the current speed.

Board Member, Lee Benson described the current connection speed in the system as "terrible."

Benson suggested that as opposed to utilizing approving the proposal at the board's next meeting — which will be held on Feb. 4 — that the service is instead bid out to get a better sense of pricing.

Larue noted that in the past when the board had bid the service out that there are only three potential providers in Scottsboro — the Scottsboro Power Board, Spectrum and Century Link — and only the power board and Spectrum had ever submitted bids to provide the service.

The school board discussed hiring auditors for the annual audit required by state law. A private auditing firm was contacted by the system and quoted the price to perform the service at roughly $20,000 — a roughly equal price to the previous year's auditing price.

The cost is incurred as city school systems are required to be audited, but the state office of examiners is not required to provide the service to city systems, only county.

Due to COVID-19 related restrictions and an increased demand the state auditors were not able to provide the service to Scottsboro City Schools and thus the system had to consider contracting out with a private firm.

The hiring of a licensed mental health counselor was discussed for the school system. The counselor would be able to provide counseling to students and assist them in dealing with mental and emotional challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress of school.

Board member Dr. Gary Speers brought to the board's attention a proposal to utilize the Scottsboro Police Department for security at board meetings. He suggested a similar system and pay rate that is currently utilized to provide security at athletic events.

Speers stated that his interest in this was brought up due to the recent attempted insurrection at the United State Capitol.

When asked Speers stated there was no specific local event that prompted his concern.

"If they're willing to storm the Capitol," Speers stated after the meeting, "then what's to stop them storming this meeting."

Speers noted during the meeting that his interest is in protecting the school board and to provide those in attendance a safe environment.

Law enforcement presence is not uncommon at other governmental meeting in Jackson County, with both the Jackson County Commission and Scottsboro City Council having law enforcement personal present.

The Scottsboro Board of Education will conduct a board meeting again on Feb. 4.

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