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HCPS elementary schools deemed very safe

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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

Henry County Public Schools’ elementary schools were deemed very safe through a series of multifaceted safe school assessments administered by the Kentucky Center for School Safety on March 11.

It was a joint effort through the Kentucky School Boards Association, the Department of Education and the Kentucky Center for School Safety, according to Denise Perry, Director of Student Support Services for Henry County Public Schools.

Surveys were distributed to students, parents, staff and faculty before the actual physical plant inspection. During the physical plant inspection, the teams analyzed a multitude of areas such as security, lunch and class changes, according to Perry. Teams of six observed a full school day, arriving before students and leaving after them. The preliminary surveys were then analyzed in conjunction with the data of the physical plant site visit, they rolled all of that data into their report, Perry said.

“We want all the data that we can obtain to make sure that we are as safe as we can be,” Perry said. “Schools are deemed to be one of the safest places that children are during the day and we want to make sure that we haven’t overlooked anything that could help make them safer.”

The safe school assessments are not mandatory — Henry County Public Schools elected to participate in the voluntary service. Data gathered from these analyses is used in possible grants, the One-Call Now notification system and secure entry ways.

“We have outside professional eyes looking at our schools to insure that our procedures and our facilities are as safe as they can possibly be,” Perry said.

The assessors deemed all of the elementary schools very safe, according to a recent press release by Perry. However, there are still various areas of concern and considerations.

There were more commendations for all schools than areas of concern. Commendations, detailed in a recent press release by Perry, included the fact that students and parents indicated that they feel safe at school, principals provide strong leadership, the school acknowledges and recognizes student successes, emergency drills including lock-down procedures, the use of the One-Call Now System for emergency notification, use of staff identification badges, access control through the camera/buzzer systems at entryways, students report adults to whom they can go in the building in time of need, AEDs are available and there is little evidence of any fighting, drugs or weapons.

Areas of concern and considerations for all schools included that classroom doors can only be locked from the hallway, parent pick-up of afternoon car riders, that student names should be removed from outside classroom doors, the necessity to insure that bullying is continually minimized, playground supervision prevents misbehavior and that students behave well on buses.

Campbellsburg Elementary was commended for having posted anti-bullying signs, well-implemented visitor procedures and a sense that matters of safety are seriously considered. Concerns included traffic flow, bus loading and unloading procedures and the need to insure that all exterior doors are locked at all times during the day.

Eastern Elementary was commended for the established cohesive relationships within the building and community, the mentoring program conducted by counselor and principal and the clean and well-maintained building which shows pride in the school. Considerations included the necessity to clarify an off-campus evacuation site, staff and visitor badges for all and the need to ensure that parents are aware of notification procedures.

New Castle Elementary was commended for the CHAMPS program, excellent overall supervision of students and a positive culture that promotes feeling of warmth and caring. Concerns included the need to number all exterior doors, reevaluate parent drop-off/pick-up practices and the need to identify an off-campus evacuation site.

“We really do feel like the schools are safe, but we are always looking for way to improve it. We got really positive comments from teams that do this across the state,” Perry said. “It’s not that they really didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, but it’s nice to have somebody else confirming what we know.”

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