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Hesston violence prompts school district security tweaks

News editor

USD 410 board members addressed student and staff security earlier this year when they approved an electronic door access system for both school buildings, but learned Monday that Superintendent Steve Noble added a couple of improvements.

“We approved that project prior to the tragedy over in the Hesston/Newton area, and that hit pretty close to home,” Noble said. “One of the things I took the liberty to do was to was to add on, at $500 a door, a buzz-in system.”

The doors Noble referred to are the front entry doors for the middle school/high school and elementary school.

The add-ons include a buzzer and video camera monitored in the offices, where personnel can verify who is requesting access before automatically unlocking the doors.

“Those doors will be controlled all day long,” Noble said. “That is, in my view, a necessary thing in light of all that has happened around us.”

The shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston was the country’s 33rd mass shooting of the year, Noble said, and that about 400 occur annually.

“They’re happening frequently, they’re happening close to home,” he said. “We keep putting these sort of things in place to help mitigate possible tragedies. We can’t eliminate them — that’s a heart thing, a soul thing, a cultural thing. This is something we can do for our buildings to make them a little more safe.”

The lunchroom at Hillsboro Elementary School can be accessed without using the front door, but the new system provides a partial solution, Noble said. When children are in the lunchroom, the system will lock the doors, and anyone wishing to enter will have to use an electronic access identification badge to unlock the doors to gain entry.

A longer-term goal Noble mentioned would be to reconfigure the main entries at both schools so that everybody who comes to the buildings would be funneled to the main offices.

“I believe both our buildings can be equipped very reasonably to do that, but it won’t be for a while,” Noble said.

An outmoded district telephone system will give way to new equipment operating by voice-over Internet protocol, VoIP, as the board approved a bid of $18,546 from Friesen Technology Services for the necessary equipment.

The system will be maintained in-house, and FTS will provide VoIP services for $176.75 a month.

Parts are no longer made for the old system, Noble said, and each building’s system is separate from the others, making transfers of calls from one building to another impossible.

The new system solves the transfer problem and also will allow the district to have one phone number through which any person in the district can be contacted.

In other business:

  • A resignation request from high school math and Project Lead the Way teacher Lance Sawyer was accepted.
  • Tamara Cassidy was hired to a three-quarter-time position as middle school math, physical education, and English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher.
  • Autumn Hardey was hired as elementary school counselor.
  • Jerry Hinerman received a one-time $500 stipend for additional duties performed in facilitating the recently-completed superintendent search process.
  • A 47-passenger bus equipped with a wheelchair lift and two wheelchair compartments was approved for purchase from Kansas Truck Equipment for $83,439.

Last modified March 17, 2016

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