By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Plans to improve school safety and security, as well as enrollment trends, were highlights of Supt. Rodney Wakefield’s State of the Schools report at the Oct. 14 board meeting.
The school bond approved last year by voters will allow all visitors to be routed through the office at each of the four school buildings. Following completion of office gateway security, control access will be upgraded and enhanced for the academic areas.
Components of the office security will include a visitor management system, with magnetic latches and locks, key card readers, door buzzers, lockdown buttons, office cameras and permission to enter and exit sensors.
A Michigan State Police Safety Grant will help provide first responder access to each school.
During the school day, visitors will need approved identification to access the academic areas through the main office. Trenton Public Schools I.D. badges, Wayne County Educational I.D. badges, vendor identification, lobby guard “quick passes” and valid state and federal licenses will facilitate entry. The credentials will be used to create a visitor badge at the lobby guard’s kiosk. Once a badge is complete, office personnel may allow a visitor access to the permitted academic area.
Ancillary school staff and first responders will be exempt from the Lobby Guard process.
“We have added first responder access to the Police Department and the Fire Department,” Wakeham said. “Even in a lockdown situation, they will be able to access a key card reader.”
Completion of the safety items are subject to the deadlines provided by the grant funding.
The elementary school updates include kindergarten, gym, music and cafeteria additions, and the replacement of classroom doors, which will subsequently have lockdown hardware. Doors which need windows to facilitate observation will be narrow, and covered with security film.
“The doors that have a center window panel have School Guard film in them, and so it makes them more difficult to break into,” Wakeham said. “Door lockdown hardware is on the bottom, and it is intuitive: You press the button, and the deadbolt comes out. There are some videos of people trying to break down that steel (door) frame, and it is very difficult to do.”
The high school media center, which in the past was predominantly a library housing paper books, is transitioning to an instructional material center which will accomodate electronic information access. The area will also provide online learn stations, collaborative work areas, and will continue to house the computer lab.
The high school will also gain a beverage counter area, with seating, between the IMC and school store.
A fenced-in Agri-Science area, with a greenhouse, raised planting beds and a community growing garden will provide a boost to the science area.
An automotive technology area will be upgraded to better meet national standard, and an interior wall and fenced area will provide access and security. The area will be modified to allow for the installation of more lifts, to allow more student access, and the air distribution and exhaust system will be upgraded.
Athletic field surfaces will focus on multi-use turf surfaces. The baseball and softball areas will be improved, as will the track, bathrooms, concessions, lighting and ticket booths.
The middle school projects will include more hallway collaborative learning spaces for students working in small groups, which will also be supported through media center improvements.
The creation of STEM space – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – will occur along with needed athletic area improvements.
Wifi access points have been upgraded throughout the district. A Multi-Tiered Student Support system is being expanded from the elementary school level to all grades.