WARSAW — During a regular board meeting on Sept. 16, Warsaw Community Schools’ Board of Trustees learned the school corporation was recently awarded a $100,000 school safety grant.
The grant is through the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant program, which focuses on the safety and security of schools. Since 2013, the program has delivered more than $72 million in matching grants to Indiana schools across the state.
“We’re very thankful to the State of Indiana for putting together this grant,” said Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert. “This is money that goes toward our school resource officers and the officers’ program inside our schools.”
The September board meeting primarily focused on student and school safety, with discussions led by Mark Fick, WCS transportation director; Dr. David Robertson, chief academics officer; and Brad Hagg, chief technology officer.
In his presentation to board trustees, Hagg talked about Securly, the school corporation’s new web filtering and student safety platform.
“We have fully switched over to Securly,” said Hagg. “Like any new filter, there’s bumps in the road as you block things you shouldn’t block or opened things you shouldn’t have open. So we’ve been working on tweaking those settings with the help of teachers and students. But I really haven’t heard of any pushback. Sometimes when you get a new Internet filter in, people can get frustrated. But it’s been a very positive switch-over experience.”
Hagg said the schools’ previous web filter used six virtual servers on the corporation’s network that took up a significant amount of server storage. Securly is completely cloud-based.
All parents within the school district will also receive an e-mail on Sept. 17 regarding analytics on their students’ learning device.
“You’ll get an e-mail about once a week about what your student is browsing,” said Hagg.
Hagg said Securly uses language processing to detect potential threats or issues through students’ social media messages, including bullying, self-harm, or threats. However, during school hours, students do not have access to any social media sites on their learning devices.
In a brief presentation, Robertson discussed school bus stop safety and reviewed what changes the transportation department has made to allow for curbside pickups to avoid having students cross streets to get to a bus.
“We wanted to ensure we had the safest situation available with all of our bus stops,” said Robertson. “We really took a look at any stops in high-speed areas, and by high speed, that’s anywhere with speeds over 45 miles per hour. And in almost every case, we’ve been able to set it up where every stop in those high-speed areas are picked up curbside.”
Fick also discussed school bus and student safety with a presentation on GeoTab, a GPS tracking system that allows for vehicle tracking. With the system, school bus locations can be tracked on an online map.
“This really has paid for itself,” said Fick. “I can basically tell if I have buses that are crisscrossing routes or aren’t efficient. This whole system has been working out really well, and law enforcement has access to it. We’re gonna look into expanding it to parents having access to it.”
In other business, the board:
- Held a public hearing for the school corporation’s 2020 budget, which totals $81,548,550.
- Learned about the school’s Oct. 9 ribbon cutting for the student activity center. The new facility includes four full basketball courts and a six-lane track.
The board’s next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14.