The Star City School District has made major improvements that will increase the overall safety of students, teachers and staff.
Phase I consisted of security camera upgrades that were made during the 2017-2018 school year. The Star City School Board approved Phase II this past March. Construction began over the summer which includes enhancing building entrances. Phase II is expected to be complete within the next few weeks.
Superintendent Jon Laffoon says that the administration and board felt it was a priority to get all campuses secure.
“For the last 15 years, a person could simply walk through the front doors, and into a classroom or straight into the hallway and access our kids,” Laffoon said. “Soon with new construction, that will change. Just inside the building, the vestibules built will add additional secure front entries so that once you come inside the outside doors, you have to have permission to go anywhere else in the building.”
Along with newer safety entrances, door alarms have been added for non-accessible doors as well as visitor management systems at each building. Visitors must check in at the front entrance and have a state issued ID to enter the building and to check out students. While Phase II will not be completed by the first day of school, the staff is working hard to implement changes in their everyday routines that will prove to be beneficial in the future.
The main changes will be for visitors, staff and parents. They cannot gain access without permission from the front office, a standard procedure in most schools. The student population will be able to enter the doors just as they would any other school day. The difference now is students will enter through designated sets of doors, rather than the multiple sets they previously used.
Another new feature is the installation of security cameras in each school. This is a level of safety Laffoon says he wanted to bring to the district two years ago. The district sought a millage to fix traffic issues at the Star City Middle School and Jimmy Brown Elementary campuses, complete three phases of security upgrades, give teachers raises, build a new community arena and upgrade the football facilities.
“We know that we’ve been very fortunate, but I just feel we need to be proactive and have the safety upgrades in place as quickly as possible, even with the limited funding we inherited,” Laffoon said. “We wanted to do multiple projects that are needed in our district, but the community was not ready, and that is their right. Our students deserve a safer campus. We have safety and traffic issues that have been ignored by past administrations, and our staff needs raises. We have to do a better job of connecting to the community and see where we can gain support.”
“I’m anxious to get the safety Phases I and II behind us so we can go forth with educating the students in a safer environment.” Laffoon stated.