By TIM HORAN
Patrons who arrived late to the regular USD 435 Board of Education meeting Monday at the District Office found the doors locked.
That is just the beginning as all five schools in the Abilene school district are improving security.
“We have been working with the Abilene Police Department on a procedure with each of the schools,” interim Superintendent Denise Guy told the board referring, to the Active Shooter Procedure. “They came out and did some professional development with our staff in January. They walked through all of the buildings and itemized some different things to make the buildings safer.
“They talked about where the lighting might be better, what doors they recommended should be locked. Officer (Kris) Kobiskie will deliver those reports tomorrow. They are not a lot of things that cost a lot, just some things to be aware of, as he was walking through the buildings. It was some really good information.
“The administrative team has been working on his procedure for the schools if something like this were to happen, so that everyone knows what their role is,” she said, referring to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman killed students. “It is part of our district plan. It is a procedure and not a policy.”
The board unanimously approved the procedure plan.
Then in the administrative reports, several principals discussed how they are making the schools safer for students overall, not just in the case of an active shooter.
Principal Greg Heinrichs said that more doors will be locked at Kennedy Elementary School. He outlined a few other safety procedures at Kennedy.
Principal Ben Smith said the high school has a unique situation because there are two facilities where students must walk outside the school to classrooms.
“Safety is going to trump convenience,” he said. “We’re going to lock more doors. If it is raining or cold out, they (the students) are going to have longer walks. Kids are going to taken an extra 35 seconds.”
Third grade teachers at McKinley Elementary School were also honored with the Apple Distinguished Program for Innovation, Leadership and Education Excellence Award.
The third grade teachers piloted the program last school year by getting a grant which, made it possible to use the iPad as a tool for each student. Every third grade student had an iPad which eventually led to the Abilene school district expanding to issuing an iPad to every student above the second grade this year.
Adam Shepherd presented the award to Abilene’s third grade teachers and their principal, Tom Schwartz.