USD 497 implements new ways to improve student safety

New measures for student safety implented


Aidin Manning

One of the ways the district is exploring to improve security and safety is to give each student an ID badge to wear during the school day. Already, more doors are being locked to better secure the building.

By Coobin Schmaus, Editor-in-Chief

The school district has begun implementing new plans for student safety after analyzing data from community conversation responses in March.

Beginning April 15, the school began locking additional doors to better secure the grounds until construction is completed. The goal is to provide temporary solutions as the school prepares for major physical changes.

“We will take immediate steps to limit access to our building during the school day,” Principal Matthew Brungardt said in a letter to staff and parents. “While these measures require changes to students’ regular traffic patterns, and may cause some minor inconveniences, they are intended to enhance safety and security.”

To further improve security, the district will also be issuing ID badges to students to gain entry to the building, similar to what staff currently use. Superintendent Anthony Lewis has pushed for this idea since the initial community conversation held at Lawrence High on Feb. 21.

“We have received the printer and materials needed to create student access ID badges,” Lewis said. “I don’t care about the cost. Student safety is more important than us worrying about how much a badge will cost.”

Many of these plans come with renewed urgency. In February, two students brought loaded weapons to LHS — with a total of three guns being brought to school this school year. Concerns were heightened on March 29 when two Lawrence High students were shot at Holcom Park, which pressed the issue of student safety.

School Psychologist Sylvia Trevino-Maack believes the incident is proof that action is needed outside of current measures.

“I think many of those things are still too vague,” Trevino Maack said. “Let’s move into action.”

With the temporary expansion of mental health resources as a result of the shooting, the district is finalizing portions of its new strategic planning process. Parts of the plan include social and emotional support to promote the safety of students.

“We have a strategy team currently working on objectives, initiatives and action steps around that area of focus,” Lewis said. “The school board will consider approval of the final plan at the end of June.”

Even with immediate changes, Lewis maintains that the district will continue to use new information to influence gradual improvements to security. The implementation of an anonymous “Contact Us” option on the USD 497 website has allowed many community members to leave feedback on current measures.

“We want to continue to encourage open communication among students, parents, school staff and community members,” Lewis said. “Maintaining open lines of communication is critical to preventing school violence.”

Trevino Maack hopes feedback from new measures and past incidents will help students cope with the aftermath of such trying times, but that student-staff involvement should be more direct.

“I think we need to do better,” Trevino Maack said. “I hope we get the opportunity to debrief on so many things that are happening so fast and levels of anxiety being so high.”