Lee’s Summit R-7 School District enhances safety thanks to district-wide upgrade
Thanks to a district-wide security upgrade, all Lee’s Summit R-7 schools are continuing to enhance and improve safety measures and procedures. During spring 2013, the R-7 Board of Education approved a comprehensive plan implemented between summer 2013 and summer 2014.
The improvements are designed to ensure a safe learning environment for all students, which is a top priority within Lee’s Summit R-7. The school upgrades include both improvements to school buildings as well as safety and security procedures. Upgrades are:
- Improvements and expansion of the district’s camera-buzzer entry systems. Buzzer-entry systems, including video cameras and other equipment located in all elementary schools and Great Beginnings Early Education Center, were upgraded. The buzzer entry systems also expanded to the district’s three middle schools. The middle-school buzzer entry systems were installed during 2013-14 at the middle-schools as well as at several R-7 support facilities – Transportation, Facilities and Before- and After-School Services (BASS).
- Improvements to the front-entry or vestibule areas at various schools. The vestibule modifications involved limited remodeling of schools that previously had entrances that did not meet the district’s upgraded secure vestibule/office guidelines. Through these improvements, visitors to schools are required to enter the building through a secured vestibule that leads directly to the office areas. This ensures that all visitors check in and are unable to access the school without first being greeted by office personnel. This work took place during summer 2013 and summer 2014.
- Continuation of the district’s Visitor Management System computerized check-in process for school visitors. This system was piloted in three elementary schools during 2011-12 was then rolled out to all elementary schools and Great Beginnings Early Education Center. Upon entering the schools, visitors scan their driver’s license or other official identification card and are provided a visitor badge that is valid only for the individual visit.
- Improvements at the high schools that address visitor check-in and management, based on what will work best for each school’s design.
These security enhancements are being funded in several phases through the school district budget over a period of three fiscal years to allow the work to be completed without seeking additional funding from taxpayers.
The upgrades continue the district’s ongoing emphasis on school safety. Throughout the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, school employees continuously emphasize emergency and safety measures, including procedures and preparations. The R-7 Emergency Operations Team meets on a regular basis to address safety and security upgrades and to review the district’s comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan. This plan focuses on prevention, preparedness, emergency response and recovery.
All Lee’s Summit R-7 staff receive frequent training over these procedures, which cover everything from tornadoes to a crime in progress to a hazardous materials spill. Students and staff members also conduct regular drills on a variety of safety procedures, including natural disasters, fires and those related to intruders at schools. In addition, safety and security audits are conducted at R-7 schools throughout the year to ensure safe learning environments using consensus standards and best practices.
Several years ago, the R-7 School District implemented the use of staff identification badges, including photographs, for employees. Each R-7 middle school and high school has a full-time resource officer. These specially trained officers from the Lee’s Summit Police Department assist with crime prevention at schools and are available to react quickly when a police officer is needed on the school premises.
School resource officers have been instrumental in implementing a Lee’s Summit Schools Campus Crime Stoppers Tips Line. This phone number – (816) 986-1450 – offers callers the opportunity to anonymously leave a recorded phone message reporting crimes such as thefts, vandalism, harassment, bullying, assault, drugs and weapons violations that occur on school property. The tips line was initiated with the help of a grant and has proved successful in resolving several incidents.
All elementary and middle schools also offer DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) training, and DARE police officers operate out of the elementary schools on a part-time basis.
In addition to training to prepare for school emergencies, district employees are trained to identify students exhibiting unhealthy behaviors. These students are identified and offered appropriate interventions through a team effort at the schools. As well as training at the district level, a number of R-7 staff members have participated in regional, state and national conferences focusing on school and youth safety and crisis planning.