NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — The Noblesville School District's safety plan is a work in progress.
The district is responsible for more than 10,700 students and 1,500 staff members. With 14 locations, 400 exterior doors, and 118 buses, it's important to have policies and procedures in place. School officials and parents are working to implement new measures to enhance school safety.
Steve Rogers leads a group of parents called Noblesville Stands Together. The group works to improve safety for students and examines measures being taken at the local, state and national level.
"We've spent a lot of time not just looking at Noblesville's safety plan, but [also] what the state is doing and what the federal government can and should be doing," Rogers said.
Rogers' son attends Noblesville West Middle School, the scene of a classroom shooting last May that left a student and teacher critically injured.
Rogers believes it is time to focus on preventing shootings. "I think we need to be focused on providing resources to mental health and those kinds of things that would be more preventative," Rogers said.
Since the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, mental health has been a key focus for the district. Support resources have been added for at-risk students and their families, and the district collaborates with local and state mental health organizations. In addition, school staff has been trained to recognize signs of trouble.
Procedures have changed, too. Students must leave their backpacks in lockers. They have limited entry access to buildings in the morning, and both students and visitors are required to carry identification.
The district has also taken measures to enhance security. Staff will use state-issued metal detector wands in cases with reasonable suspicion. Noblesville Schools is also doubling the number of school resource officers, working in tandem with the Noblesville Police Department to split the cost and hire eight additional school resource officers or SROs. The district has also removed portable classrooms from campuses and added more door alarms and better security cameras.
Parents like Stephanie Lambert are noticing the changes.
"I think that the school has been very thoughtful," Lambert said, "and has taken action really quickly to try to come up with the things that will help keep our kids safe."
The school district is hoping to make more security changes but will have to wait until after election day to learn whether its operating referendum has passed or failed.
If the tax measure passes on election day, the district safety plan would include:
- Student screenings for suicide, anger and trauma issues.
- Ten additional social workers.
- A mentoring program.
- Specially-trained dogs able to sniff out guns.
- A technician to monitor a wide range of district-wide surveillance cameras.
- A full-time district safety director.
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