NEW PARIS — National Trail Local School District has been working throughout the past year to make safety improvements. From additional exits to guest passes, the district is doing its best to ensure student safety traveling to and at the school complex.
The first noticeable difference will be for guests as they are entering the complex. There is a new glass front at the main office. Before, when guests wanted to drop off something or visit someone, they would talk to staff through a sliding window. Now, there is a bullet proof glass window which has a slot at the bottom to pass through documents.
Guests are still given a name tag when they enter, but they are now given a guest pass. Any adult at National Trail Local School District should have a pass. Teachers and staff are to carry their ID badges and guests are given a guest ID badge. Substitute teachers are given badges that have emergency information on the back.
In the near future, the district will be installing a visitor management system which will perform a predator registry background check on visitors. The system will require guests to show a state issued ID card and will then print out a Guest ID. All guests will have a physical picture attached to their badge, allowing for better identification of guests.
“Our focus has been on making sure we are aware who our guests are. It also lets us see when somebody doesn’t have a [badge] on. It lets our staff focus on questioning those people, finding out who they are and why they are not wearing a badge,” John Toschlog, School Safety Director, said.
“Our focus has also been pushed on making sure our staff members keep our doors locked at all times, so we don’t have doors propped open. That is a common issue in all schools, with kids and classrooms going outside and leaving doors open. We have a focus now on making sure everyone is responsible for keeping those doors closed so we can have a safer building with students inside,” he added.
Two exit-only doors have been added to the cafeteria. The way the cafeteria was constructed meant to exit students had to use the main entrance. With two exterior exits, in the event of an emergency, students could exit directly outside.
The district has also held professional development days for all National Trail Local School District staff. In late September, the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, local police departments, and Darke County Sheriff’s Office visited the school to train in the building, and staff got to train on recognition on shots, how to barricade doors, and other safety tips.
In early October, a professional development day was held entitled “Stop the Bleed,” teaching staff emergency first aid which could save lives in a dire situation.
This fall, National Trail Local School District employed its first ever School Resource Officer through the Preble County Sheriff’s Office. Officer Austin Snowden has already become an integral part of the National Trail family.
He works for the district throughout the entire school year. During the summer, he will be working to patrol the district, including New Paris, Eldorado, West Manchester, and anywhere else National Trail students live.
His role is to move around the building, be seen, and make connections with students. He has already begun to build those relationships.
He will also be starting his teaching responsibilities soon. He will be talking to the students about life skills and teach anti-drug education. He will also be speaking on safety initiatives with the younger kids.
His position in the school is partially supported by a grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The funds pay for 50 percent of the teaching time he is with the students.
“Safety has always been a focus in this district. I can remember, when I was a principal here, several incidents happening because of our location,” Superintendent Bob Fischer said. “National Trail has always had a large focus on safety, because of our location. You never know what incidents or obstacles may come up.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH