Wichita schools will add safety, security improvements

A grant from the state of Kansas will help the Wichita school district with some safety and security improvements as a new school year begins.

USD 259 has received a grant of $921,000 for safety enhancements.  The district’s director of safety and environmental services, Terri Moses, said part of the grant is being used to install new locks on classroom doors so they can be locked from the inside if necessary.

Some of the grant funding will be used to replace analog surveillance cameras with digital cameras in the elementary schools.   Cameras in the middle schools and high schools have already been replaced.

Moses said the entrances to each school building have been numbered, and those numbers will be posted inside as well as outside.  Classroom numbers will be posted on the outside of the building.  The numbers will allow people calling 911 to report where they are within a building so emergency crews can get to them faster.    Moses said local law enforcement and emergency agencies have also been provided with interior maps of the school buildings.

Moses said the district will also update latchkey entrances for schools that have latchkey programs.  Some of the latchkey entrances are placed at doors that enter the cafeteria or gymnasium.   The district will have a system where a supervisor can use a tablet to answer a latchkey door and allow a parent or appropriate person into the building during latchkey times.

Moses said a video on “Run, Hide, Fight” that the district produced several years ago has had over a million views on the internet and other schools have asked to use it in their safety presentations.     She said a “Speak Up” phone app was created last year in cooperation with the Wichita Crime Commission to encourage students to report any suspicious or troubling behavior.  It’s an anonymous reporting program that has received almost 100 tips since it was introduced last October.

The school district is also going to new terminology for security situations at schools this year.  A “lockout” will be called if there is police or emergency activity in the neighborhood that would require students and teachers to stay inside the building.   Normal activities would continue but students would not be allowed outside and no one will be allowed to get into the building.   A “lockdown” will be in effect if there is a need to keep students inside the classrooms.