It may take a few seconds longer to enter Robinson schools starting in the fall, but it will mean increased security for staff and students.
The Robinson Unit 2 school board Monday authorized Superintendent Josh Quick to pursue purchase of a visitor management system for the four schools as the first step toward improved safety and security.
The move was in response to a report by the Unit 2 Safety Committee. Based on several months of study, the report offered several proposals on how to make Robinson's schools more secure.
Quick has been in contact with two companies that offer visitor management. The systems require a school visitor to scan in his or her driver's license. It does a quick background check and if all is well, it prints out a visitor's pass that includes the person's license photo, name and destination inside the school.
Frequent visitors' information can be saved, speeding up the admission process. It is hoped a system can be purchased and installed before the start of the 2019-20 school year.
Quick was also authorized to talk with the City of Robinson about a return to having a full-time school resource officer in the schools.
Originally, the city provided an officer whose sole duty was to work in the schools. Unit 2 paid part of his salary. Later, when the district fell on hard times, the city shouldered the full cost of keeping an officer in the schools.
The city still provides an SRO, but he also has other duties. Robinson police also help out at the four schools when students arrive every morning, a service offered at no charge to the district.
"I can't say thanks enough to the city for all its done," board President Dennis Inboden said.
Quick will work with city officials to determine what must be done to have a full-time SRO again. He warned, however, "It's not going to happen until we're willing to pay for it."
The board is also considering establishing a two-stage entry at the schools. Under this system, a visitor, after being buzzed in by the school office, will only be able to enter a waiting area where he or she will "face-to-face interaction" with office staff prior to being given access to the rest of the building, Quick explained.
Robinson High School will be the quickest and easiest to retrofit, Quick said. Lincoln and Washington elementary schools will offer special challenges because of their design.
Other proposals include limiting access to access to classroom wings when parents arrive to pick up students at WES and limiting access to the rest of LES when visitors are in its gymnasium, updating security camera systems, replacing door locks, installing shatter-resistant glass in windows in classroom doors and behavioral-threat assessment training.
District officials are also looking into having only one public entrance at each school. RHS currently has three, including the gymnasium entrance used by students who drive to school.
A possible change is that a sidewalk could be built along the front of the gym allowing students to walk around the school and enter through the front door. A volunteer has offered to install a walk this summer.
In personnel matters Monday, the board renewed Quick's contract for five years. His salary will be determined when those of other administrators are set.
Also, the board employed Brady Thompson as a fifth-grade teacher at LES for the 2019-20 school year. Tiffany Musselwhite was hired as a special education teacher at Nuttall Middle School. Tracey Hargis was transferred to the position of sixth-grade language arts starting in the fall.
The resignation of RHS evening custodian Terri Myers was accepted and Stephanie Hardesty was hired to fill the vacancy. Frankie Williams was employed as an evening custodian at NMS. Chatlin Morris was hired as an LES lunchroom supervisor.
The resignations of RHS English teacher Cynthia Myer and RHS band director Justin Murray were accepted. Both are effective at the end of the school year.
The board approved a proposal for creation of an RHS Athletics Hall of Fame. The idea was first suggested by Athletic Director Kelly Brookman in February. The hall will honor student athletes who have been out of school at least 10 years and coaches whose RHS careers date back at least five years.
Board members heard a report from the Program Review Committee on changes to consider when preparing next year's budget.
For example, it was recommended that an administrative position be added at NMS to assist with disciplinary matters. The school once had an assistant principal to handle those issues, but when Craig Beals was promoted to principal, the job was not refilled.
The board may consider making Unit 2's two part-time school nurses full time. It may also consider making the part-time art teacher position full time. A certified computer teacher could be added and the district is looking into adding an in-school intervention program.
In a separate matter, Quick told the board the district has been approved for a $28,000 state fiber optics network grant. This could allow Unit 2 to capture a total of $140,000 to build its own network to connect all four schools.
The schools are now connected by network leased from Mediacom, with all Internet traffic going out through RHS. A self-owned network would save Unit 2 $10,000 per year and allow it to take full advantage of the high-speed fiber optic line that follows Illinois Route 1 and which has a connection at RHS.
One change the district won't be making is a proposed move for the softball team. At least, it won't be made this year.
In December, Justin Legg of Crossroads Sporting Events told the board he is looking into raising money to install and maintain a new diamond at RHS for the Lady Maroons softball team.
Legg said a diamond could be built south of the football field. Monday, however, several board members said the did not like that as a location. Also, it they said if softball moved back from the park, baseball should, too. Both teams now play at the Robinson City Park.
Inboden said they would look at the area north of the football field but was uncertain it is large enough for two diamonds. It was also suggested Unit 2 might approach the City of Robinson about working together to improve and maintain the diamonds at the park.
In other business, the board:
Renewed the RHS membership in Illinois High School Association.
Approved May 14 as NMS Eighth Grade Recognition Night.
Approved participation in the SEPCO purchasing cooperative for 2019-20.
Approved the purchase of new lunchroom tables for LES.