By Richard Stokes
Our nation grieves for the losses in Newtown, Conn. Little children's laughter has been silenced and lives dedicated to educating future generations have been cut short.
With concerns for school safety being a relevant topic, I wanted to reassure our community that our district is committed to providing a safe and welcoming school environment. From our transportation system to our classrooms, the safety of the students, staff and public is one of our district's highest priorities.
Here are some items of interest regarding school safety.
Beginning with the doors of our schools. We do not have a "card-key entry system." This fact, however, does not make our schools unsecure or unsafe.
In preparation for the 2000 school bond, district officials announced that bond money would be spent to make "safer schools improvements." Included was a provision for a "keying/lock system."
A pilot plan using three different locking systems (including an electromagnetic card-key mechanism) was tested in district buildings. After this experience, district officials elected to install a traditional lock and key system.
The devices could be locked from both outside or inside of the classrooms. This feature was meant to protect staff from potential danger that may exist in the hallway. The decision to install the lock and key system was based on reliability, maintenance requirements and cost.-
During subsequent school bond campaigns including the 2010 school bond, a "card-key entry system" was not discussed.
However, for the 2010 bond, the Master Plan Committee, which was made up of parents, business owners, government officials, citizens and school staff, identified the need to incorporate secure entrances at our schools. As a result of school bond projects, our schools have become increasingly more secure.
Single points of entry and secure entrances now exist at Carson Middle, Eagle Valley Middle, and Empire Elementary schools.
A secure entrance at Seeliger Elementary will welcome parents and students after the Christmas break. In addition, secure entrances will be operational at both Mark Twain and Fremont Elementary schools for the 2013-2014 school year.
Precious school bond dollars have provided our community with safe, healthy and efficient buildings.
However, more can be done to make our schools safer. We still must construct secure entrances at Carson and Pioneer high schools and at Fritsch and Bordewich/Bray elementary schools. Future planning and discussions will occur on the topic of school safety. In the meanwhile, our students will continue to practice fire, earthquake, and lock-down drills in preparation for an actual emergency.
Since first moving to Carson City I have been impressed with the sense of community that exists here. Our district has benefited from the citizens who embody this characteristic.
They have served on our boards and on our committees. They have volunteered in our classrooms and chaperoned our dances and field trips. They have raised funds to buy classroom materials and passed school bonds.
There is nothing that our community won't do for its children. What a blessing it is for me to live and work here.
• Richard Stokes is the superintendent of Carson City Schools.