Elmore County Schools will be implementing new safety measures and continuing to maintain the measures that have already been in place for the 2018-19 school year, according to ECS Superintendent Richard Dennis.
Dennis said he became more concerned about safety at ECS after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“Seventeen children getting killed in Florida was a big step in that direction. It really instigated it last year,” Dennis said. “We had evaluated the campuses. Most of the schools already had check-in sites, but in my evaluation, there were too many other access points that were available to the general public. I’m limiting those.”
Dennis said ECS is erecting six-foot fences around the rear perimeters of all elementary schools. At a special called Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Dennis said the board is planning to award a bid to a construction company to build the fences, and construction should start as soon as the bid is approved.
“Most of the schools have fencing around them, but either they’re not tall enough or they have gaps in them. We’re working to improve that,” Dennis said.
Dennis said they also working to ensure that a student resource officer is available to schools in all of ECS’s school zones. He said officers will be on duty in the Holtville, Redland and Eclectic communities. He said they are working to have officers at the two elementary schools in Millbrook.
During the spring semester of last year, Dennis said ECS implemented Raptor Visitor Management Software that scans a visitor’s photo ID to receive a background check before entering any school. Dennis said visitors who spend an extended amount of time with students, like volunteering at school events or chaperoning on field trips, are required to undergo a more extensive background check.
“If I wanted to volunteer coach or volunteer in a classroom, I would have to have that Raptor review done to verify that I did not have issues of any kind, legally, or (issues) that would be a concern to schools,” Dennis said. “You have lots of volunteers, especially in elementary schools that come and help teachers, or go on field trips as chaperones.”
Dennis referred to the safety initiatives as “basic,” and said they are both extensions of the safety standards ECS has adhered to for years.