School board gets reassuring report on shool security upgrades

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

After taking the month of July off from regular meetings, the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education hit the ground running Wednesday night in Loveland, approving a little more than $1.4 million in bond spending for various facilities needs and listened to a thorough presentation by TSD security and safety manager, Joe Vodjansky.

With school starting on Aug. 19 for incoming sixth and ninth graders, and Aug. 20 for everyone else, assuring the community the district’s children will be safe was a top priority for the board. “Kids need to be able to worry about learning and not have to worry about safety,” said TSD Superintendent Mac Schaffer.

Vodjansky gave a lengthy presentation on various security and safety upgrades and enhancements throughout the district and, in response to a query from board member Dave Levy, rated the security at the schools across the district as “exceptional.”

Vodjansky outlined several areas where school safety and security has been improved, including more training for the campus monitors, who will now wear law-enforcement-like uniforms at the district’s middle and high schools and will be under the district’s safety and security department, rather than being classified as part of learning services; Vodjansky said this move helps streamline things and increase efficiency. The campus monitors received 40 hours of training in areas of threat assessment and first aid, including CPR.

Vodjansky reported the district also purchased brand new automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, for all of the district’s schools as well as for Loveland’s Ray Patterson Field. The devices are used in cases of cardiac emergencies and can save lives; the district’s current collection of AEDs were approaching the end of their lifespan and replacements were a priority.

Also included in the safety and security presentation was information regarding the installation of more security cameras in schools that can all be monitored from a central office and the district’s dispatch center, which will help response times in the event of emergency. TSD will now have access to the encrypted radios used by Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Loveland Police Department as well as 600 brand new radios for use in the schools, thanks to a state grant. The district safety and security department is also working to increase cooperation, particularly in the areas of training, with the two law enforcement agencies, according to Vodjansky’s report.

As part of the bond that was approved by voters last year, the district will be installing secure vestibules at the four high schools, and Vodjansky reported the design process for the vestibules is underway and all four will be installed before next school year (2020-21). Vodjansky opened some eyes in his presentation when he reported last school year the district received over 1,000 instances of students using the Safe 2 Tell program, which includes everything from threats of self-harm to threats, outside threats to individuals, to various security lapses or concerns.

By and large the board members seemed very pleased with the work being done in the areas of safety and security at the district’s schools.

Following the report on district safety and security upgrades, the board heard the update on the use of the bond money that was earmarked for facilities and other capital improvements at the schools. From the bond, the four Berthoud schools were budgeted $13,996,743 with the funds earmarked for roof repair and replacements at Berthoud Elementary, Berthoud High and Turner Middle School, accounted for under the district-wide ledger, which totaled just over $11.5 million.  

The board also voted unanimously to approve just north of $1.4 million in spending from the voter-approved bond. A little over $1 million of the funds will be used on various information technology purchases and for new clock, bell and intercom equipment in the schools. The remaining funds will be used to purchase new custodial equipment and $136,121 was spent to reconfigure the upper floor of the district’s administration building in Loveland.

The next regular meeting of the TSD Board of Education will take place on Aug. 21.

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