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Three Duncan elementary schools have taken steps to improving student, staff and community safety.
Plato, Horace Mann and Emerson elementary schools have spent the summer renovating and reconfiguring their offices. The goal is to make it where anyone coming from outside has to stop by the office before proceeding to the rest of the building.
In the summer of 2010, Woodrow Wilson Elementary renovated its office space to create a more community and parent-friendly environment, while enhancing safety at the school.
“I’m glad we have so many school remodels going on,” Emerson Principal Mona Evans said.
The three schools are using site maintenance funds for their office projects. During the April 10 meeting of the Duncan Board of Education, the board approved a renovation budget of $49,611 for the Horace Mann office renovation and $49,607 for the Emerson office renovation. During the May 10 meeting, the board approved a budget of $61,900 for Plato renovate its office and library.
Each of the schools had their own safety concerns.
At Plato, visitors had to walk down a hallway and turn down another hallway before reaching the school’s office. To rectify this situation, the school is moving its office space to the front of the building by using part of the space that was originally the school’s library. In essence, the office and the library are switching places, but the walls are being reconfigured between the two designated areas.
“We will still have a nice size library,” Principal John Millirons said.
Millirons said the office is being moved toward the front of the building because it will allow for a quicker interaction between office staff and school visitors. He said the safety needs of the school are different than they were when the school was originally built.
The office will also have bay windows to the front of the building and the entrance hallway. This will allow the staff to have an easier time seeing people coming and going from the building.
At Horace Mann, the office has been toward the entrance of the school, but the position of the door made it difficult for office staff to keep an eye on the people entering. Instead, they mostly rely on the school’s security cameras. And finding the door to the office could be tricky for people who aren’t familiar with the school.
But the renovation will give the office staff a better vision of the people entering and will make it more obvious for people to see where the office is.
Emerson Elementary is also making some large steps toward school safety. Not only is the entrance of the school going to cut through the office, but the school will have another set of double doors the office staff will have to buzz people through.
“It’s for the safety of the students, the teachers, the parents and everyone else in the building,” Evans said.
Although the school’s office is by the entrance, the school personnel had a glass door to see people coming and going. People could walk by the office without the staff knowing, Evans said. With the entrance in the office, the staff will only have to look over a counter to see who’s entering.
And everyone will have to check in with the office before they can be buzzed to the rest of the building. Evans said the area also brings her two clerks together, instead of having them separated into two rooms like the previous layout required.
“This will make it a lot more efficient,” Evans said.
All of the schools plan to have their office areas completed before the school year begins. Evans set a move in date of Aug. 6, while Millirons’ construction team plans to have their work completed in the first week of August.