The USD 470 School Board approved several security upgrades for Arkansas City High School during its Monday meeting.
The district will purchase new door handles and locks and security cameras for a total not to exceed $68,810, with half of the cost funded through the Safe and Secure Schools grant from the Kansas Department of Education.
The 160 replacement door handles and core locks will be bought from Overhead Door Company of Wichita for no more than $28,172.
William Pfannenstiel, the district’s director of business and operations, said the new locks would allow teachers to quickly lock classroom doors without needing a key thanks to a thumb twist application on the inside of the door handle.
“In the event of an emergency, they can step in their room and lock it without the time delay for keys,” he said. “The upgrade also makes all doors ADA compliant.”
Pfannenstiel said the district has been in the process of upgrading the locks in all its facilities for several years. He said 100 percent of the classrooms now have this protection.
The school board also approved the purchase of five new outdoor cameras to monitor the east and west parking lots at the high school.
Pfannenstiel said the cameras are solar powered and will use WiFi to connect to the school’s network.
“We are looking at two cameras for the east parking lot on top of light poles, and three for the west parking lot on top of light poles,” he said.
The cameras will be purchased from Convergint Technologies for $40,638.85, which includes installation.
The new cameras have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years.
The board also set May 2 as the 2020 ACHS Commencement.
Superintendent Dr. Ron Ballard said that, as usual, there are previously scheduled events that will conflict with that date.
“This time it’s not State tennis, it’s Regional tennis,” he said.
Ballard said the good news is that regional tennis tournaments are usually played within a 60-mile radius, which should allow any participating seniors to return home in time for the graduation ceremony.
The date does avoid any conflict with Cowley College, he added.
The event is planned for Bulldog Stadium, but could be moved to the main high school gymnasium in the event of inclement weather.
Mental health issues
Business and Operations Director Jeri Crumbliss presented a report on the increasing challenges of educating students with mental health and physical issues, which has become a growing concern across the nation.
She said schools are required to provide an appropriate education for all students and to address their mental and physical needs.
“The behaviors that once upon a time caused the student to be excluded, that is no longer an option,” she said. “There are very specific regulations that talk about what we can and cannot do.”
Crumbliss said schools must now work with students with autism, traumatic brain injury, chronic illnesses and birth defects.
She said those issues have been in existence for a long time, but were seldom seen in public education until the past few years.
“If the support is missing that helps those kids outside of public school, the load is now on us,” she said.
Crumbliss said behaviors difficult to understand are sometimes things that enable students to survive in their home environment.
She said students didn’t develop those behaviors overnight and won’t easily depart from them.
“So it requires greater skill on our part,” she said. “We are working very hard to provide the training and professional development for our teachers to be able to help kids overcome the obstacles that are in their way.”