WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local Schools Board of Education held a school safety meeting on Thursday, April 12. Superintendent Bob Fischer reported on recent building and security changes, and discussed possible changes the administration has been reviewing.
Over the past two years, many safety updates have been made at Twin Valley South. One of the biggest changes was to the interior of the building. In order to make it more accessible for first responders, the building has been broken into different color-coded wings.
There is now a Tiger, Bulldog, and Panther hallway, and while those hallways all pay homage to the district’s history, they also allow for first responders to easily navigate the building.
The addition of buzzers and monitors to the offices now make it possible for the secretaries to keep an eye on who is allowed to enter the building, according to Fischer. The monitors allow administrators to monitor problems as they occur as well.
The district has been considering moving the buzzers outside, so a visitor has to identify themselves before ever entering the building.
Recently, the district made changes to building access.
“Because we are a community school, obviously we wanted to keep that feeling, especially with walkers coming in from all over town. Unfortunately, those back doors were not necessarily secure. They were left open with nobody watching them, leading to a safety concern,” Fischer said.
“We eliminated access to those walker doors. We also eliminated access for students to the building any sooner than 7:20 a.m. The reason for those changes has to do with the report time of our staff. All of our staff at our high school and middle school report at 7:15 a.m. The report time for elementary is 8:15 a.m.
“We talked with the administration team many days before we made this decision, because we know that we have many families who drop off their kids early, because they have work. We tried to figure out what we could do without being inconvenient to our families, while still improving safety,” Fischer continued.
“We settled on a 7:20 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. entrance into the building. The reason we did that was because it gives our teachers five minutes to get settled and make sure they are in their assigned area. We’ve had several positive comments from parents because of it.”
The district also eliminated the number of doors students can enter through. There are now two access points for each building.
Another change to come is the addition of door sensors, for which Fischer stated the district is getting pricing. These sensors will tell administrators if a door has been left open for too long.
The district is also attempting to improve communication to parents and between students and staff. The district continues to discuss bullying within the school and the importance of reporting any suspicious behavior, Fischer said.
According to Fischer, in the future the district is interested in getting some sort of armed response in their building. Right now, they are looking at the possibility of either the West Alexandria Police Chief having an office in the school or employing a School Resource Officer.
An SRO can cost from $13,000 to $14,000 for a part-time officer, or $54,000 to $60,000 for a full-time officer. Fischer recently attended a West Alexandria Village Council meeting to ask for their support in getting an officer within the school walls. Council was receptive, but had financial concerns regarding the expense.
Finally, TVCLSD also wants to make sure any action taken is supported by the community, which is why they held the School Safety meeting. Discussions will continue within the board’s meetings, but Fischer hopes to have something in place for the upcoming school year.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH