Olentangy school officials say they generally are satisfied in the way they handled bomb threats this month at Orange Middle School, but there is always room for improvement, Superintendent Wade Lucas told school board members Nov. 23.

Olentangy school officials say they generally are satisfied in the way they handled bomb threats this month at Orange Middle School, but there is always room for improvement, Superintendent Wade Lucas told school board members Nov. 23.

Two vague bomb threats were made at the school on Nov. 18. A graffiti note was found in a boy's bathroom that morning and a second note was discovered in the afternoon. The school was on lockdown after the first note was found and was evacuated after the second was discovered.

Lucas told board members at their regular meeting Monday that officials need to speed up communication to parents and others when such incidents happen.

Some students sent text messages about the bomb threats as soon as they learned about them, he said.

Officials are discussing possible improvements, such as possibly using phone trees, he said. A number of parents received phone calls that day. Letters explaining what happened at the school also were sent out.

Another bomb threat also was made at Orange Middle School on Nov. 9, Lucas said. Those three have been the only such incidents in the district this school year.

"We have heightened security," he said. "Students must sign in and out during class time to use restrooms. We're making sure staff members are out monitoring the halls."

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office is investigating the threats. Lucas said he is confident the perpetrator will be found and punished.

"When we get these situations after they happen, we sit down and reflect what we did well and what we didn't," the superintendent said after the meeting. "First and foremost, the kids were safe. ... I think we made the best of an unfortunate situation."

He said because of the investigation, he couldn't discuss details of the threats.

On another matter that has stirred some community concern, Lucas told the board that the administration's decision to restructure the elementary school strings program was difficult but had to be done.

Officials announced at the Nov. 2 board meeting that the popular music program would become an after-school function and be eliminated from the regular school day beginning next school year.

The move is estimated to save the district about $842,000 over the next four years.

"Restructuring saves the program from elimination, in my opinion," Lucas said. "I know some are not going to agree with that. I encourage everyone to be patient and help us make this work."

Two Olentangy residents spoke against the decision, saying the program is important and should be part of the regular curriculum.

"I do believe it's difficult to make these kinds of decisions (but) It's imperative we reconsider this," said Martha Von Hillebrandt.

Also at the meeting:

Dave Varda, executive director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials presented 2009 Outstanding School Business Official Awards to Olentangy treasurer Becky Jenkins and food service manager Pam Riley.

Board president Julie Wagner Feasel said the Dec. 8 board meeting will be the last regular meeting of the year and will be followed by a board workshop, during which members will discuss important district issues.