School security measures added

Christina Smith

During the March 11 Illinois Valley Central District 321 school board meeting, the board heard administrators discuss plans for additional security.

“School security has come to the forefront because of recent events, such as the Northern Illinois University shooting,” superintendent Dr. Dave Kinney said.

Also, threats found on bathroom walls at both IVC High School and Chillicothe Elementary Center recently added to the concern over adequate security.

Kinney said cell phones in every classroom and visitors checking in at the office are a few security measures already in place.

Patrick Hatfield, assistant superintendent, said school officials decided, in September, to install a secure, wireless access program for the existing doors at South School.

Hatfield said teachers and staff use a key fob to access the buildings, which will eventually be used by the rest of the schools in the district.

“In the future, we would like to have a digital pan, tilt and zoom camera system for the district, which would allow school officials to record and play back video from a specific time or day,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield said district officials have been working on installing cameras for a couple years.

So far, Hatfield said IVC High School has eight cameras; Mossville Grade School has six cameras; and South School has four cameras.

Next week, Chillicothe Elementary Center will have six cameras installed.

Basic camera coverage in school hallways, common areas and grounds is the first phase of additional school security, Hatfield said.

After installing cameras inside the schools, Hatfield said exterior cameras would be installed for perimeter coverage of entryways and offices.

“The third phase is integration and tying a district-wide keyless entry system with a remote monitoring system,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield said school administrators monitor and control Mossville’s heating ventilation and air conditioning system through a Web site.

Monitoring schools, recording video and remote alarms when a door opens during the night are all things Hatfield said could be integrated with the HVAC system.

“If a door opens in the middle of the night, the event would be tagged and matched with the video from the nearest camera,” Hatfield said.

Kinney said parents with students in fifth through 12th grade are able to receive emergency or other information about their child’s schools through Edline, at the school’s Web site,

Kinney said school officials are looking into expanding Edline to include kindergarten through fourth grade.

Board members also heard Amy Greer and Amy Cosner give a presentation on the success of the Got Art? program for third- through sixth-grade students, who receive weekly art instruction.

Greer said she and several other parents would like to see a part-time art specialist hired to teach seventh- and eighth-grade students an integrated art and literature curriculum, with the help of the language arts teachers.

The same specialist would also teach kindergarten through second-grade students a similar integrated curriculum, four times a year, Greer said.

“Most of the teachers we polled said an art program is not something they are skilled in doing,” Cosner said.

Greer and Cosner showed a PowerPoint presentation of Michele Stewart’s seventh-grade students and Cathy Stewart’s second-grade students, both at Mossville, working with Patty O’Kane on an art project related to books the students had read in class.

In other business, the board:

• approved a bid from Peoria Metro Construction for $757,200, for adding an addition and remodeling CEC, which will start spring break and end by Aug. 8

• approved the proposed 2008-09 academic calendar

• approved the following resignations: Ryan O’Donnell and Stacey Necessary, both from IVC High School; Jennifer Detlefson, from Mossville; Heather Bolton, Mossville ECE, from a full-time to a part-time position; Chuck Vail, Mossville track coach; and Melissa Castle, IVC High School cheerleading coach

•  approved the following contract non-renewals: Katie Fox, part-time Title One; Kim Swartz, part-time Title One; Tetyana Ovsienko, part-time ESL; Katie Lehnert, speech paraprofessional; and Jamie Shaw, speech paraprofessional

• approved the following contract: Lindsay Craig, Mossville track coach

• approved one student discipline case for expulsion for the remainder of the school year

• heard board member Steve Nalley say the facilities committee discussed future plans for school improvements during the Feb. 23 meeting, including an addition at South for a new all-purpose cafeteria; and enclosing an open fire escape at CEC, which will create two more classrooms

 • heard Kinney say IVC High School received a $60,000 Project Lead the Way grant for a sequence of pre-engineering classes

• heard Kinney say the district was named one of three aspiring schools of character by the University of Illinois Extension office in Peoria

• and heard a Mossville parent of two ask the board to consider adding verbal bullying to the school’s bullying policy. She said her children have been picked on and nothing was said.