Local schools enforcing safety protocols


News of the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has Jackson County parents on edge.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed May 24 at the Texas elementary school, making it the deadliest school shooting in the United States in a decade.

Talmadge Reasoner, assistant superintendent of operations for Seymour Community School Corp., said providing a safe environment for students, staff and visitors is of utmost importance to the school board and school officials.

“We are constantly working to push the needle and make our operations and campuses safer,” he said. “That requires a robust emergency plan as well as a detailed annual training calendar. Each of these are things we have in place.”

He said additionally, it requires the support from the community as they make improvements.

“Sometimes, that support comes in the form of financial support,” Reasoner said. “Safety and security improvements are not cheap, especially when you are upgrading an older facility.”

Reasoner said oftentimes, that support comes in the form of increased two-way communication.

“You would be amazed at the number of threats that are eliminated due to reports from the community,” he said. “We are very appreciative to those individuals who have reached out and shared a safety concern with us.”

Showing patience is another way in which the community can support Seymour schools’ efforts.

“Oftentimes, our safety protocols and procedures require a change from the ‘way things used to be,’ and those changes may be viewed as inconvenient or time-consuming,” Reasoner said.

He said while those are factors they consider when developing a procedure, they’re secondary to their primary purpose of providing a safe environment for students, staff and visitors.

Within the past 10 years, they have transitioned to an increased security posture at each of the schools, where visitors are stopped at the front door and required to state their business with a school official before being allowed inside the school office, Reasoner said.

“Again, it was much easier to transition our entrances to this type of heightened security in some of our newer facilities than others; however, that has been a priority in SCSC, and you will see that emphasis in our current construction projects as well as all of our future projects,” Reasoner said.

In a continued effort to limit the exposure of students outside of the protective envelope of the school, an enclosed walkway is being built at Seymour High School.

“That enclosure will allow students to transition between the original main building and the gymnasium complex throughout the day according to their schedule,” Reasoner said. “It will not completely eliminate the need for students to go outside of that protective envelope; however, it will significantly decrease that amount.”

That feature should be completed sometime during the 2023-24 school year.

Seymour is host to several large events throughout the year within each of its schools, such as rivalry and tournament games, musical performances and shows and celebrations, like graduation.

“We utilize our school resource officers and school administrators to coordinate with local first responders and Jackson County Emergency Management directors to make certain we have the necessary individuals onsite and at the ready if a need should arise,” Reasoner said.

Jade Peters, assistant superintendent for Brownstown Central Community School Corp., said safety is taken very seriously in Brownstown schools, and security has improved in various ways in the last four years.

“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” he said.

Peters said security has been increased in the schools by adding shatterproof film to all ground-level windows and doors corporationwide, adding a second resource officer, implementing A.L.I.C.E. (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) and upgrading and adding additional security cameras.

Within the school system, Peters said seven administrators are trained in Indiana School Safety Training.

Medora Community School Corp. Superintendent Roger Bane said the recent decision to pursue a Secured Safe School Grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security was in the works before the deadly school shooting in Texas.

“It was something we had talked about before this shooting, but we felt like we need somebody here full time,” he said.

The grant would fund an officer for three hours a days or 15 hours a week. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department also furnishes a school resource officer for two and a half hours a week.

“We’re in the process of updating all of our camera systems,” Bane said.

School employees have always spent time each day checking to ensure school doors are closed and locked, he said.

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