Security upgrades, new assessments discussed at USD 253 board meeting

Safety and security issues was one of the main topics of Wednesday's USD 253 School Board meeting.


Director of Infrastructure and Security Chris Harvel and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Andy Koenigs presented some recommendations to the board, on ways to improve the security and safety of schools and district buildings.

Board member Doug Epp says some of those options are costlier than others.

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The Raptor system is a visitor sign-in system developed in Texas, and used to verify the identity of anybody wanting to gain access to the school. The system runs an immediate background check with the national sex offender database, and for an extra fee, can also check with other criminal databases.

The board decided to move ahead with some of the lower-cost items, including installing physical barriers -- like pillars or planters -- in front of school entrances. The costlier items, such as the Raptor system, will be researched more and revisited later.

The other fear with implementing something like the Raptor system, or similar buzz-in systems, is changing the atmosphere of a school into a place of confinement, or as board Vice-President Susan Brinkman said, a prison. Epp says the goal is to keep schools user-friendly, and make people feel welcome.

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The discussion on safety and security will continue, and official action on these items will come later.

The board also discussed implementing the new state assessments, and the timeframe for that transition. Dr. George Abel and Ryan Karjala presented the new state assessment plan. In order to fit within the new College and Career-Ready Standards, USD 253 will begin their transition this year, slowly changing to the all-new plan and fully implementing Common Core standards by 2016.

Epp says the district is ahead of the curve, but the changes could throw some people off.

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In other business, the board reviewed more district policy changes, as part of their ongoing policy updates.

The next board meeting will be Jan. 22 at Emporia High School, and will be a joint meeting with the EHS Student Council.


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