Safeguarding Our Future

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by Charles Collier, The Denmark News

DENMARK — In the two-month wake of an armed attack of a Florida school, national attention has remained on furthering school safety and seeking ways to protect against and prevent the heinous, unpredictable attacks.

Near the end of March, the Wisconsin State Senate passed legislation which authorized $100 million for all Wisconsin schools to implement increased security measures like armed guards, school social workers, revamped protocol for building entry, and others.

Governor Walker strongly lobbied for the funding and signed the bill shortly after its passage, creating the Office of School Safety, led by the attorney general (Brad Schimel, currently.)

Denmark Superintendent Tony Klaubauf said in Monday night’s school board meeting that various security upgrades are being considered for District buildings, but that their qualification for grant funding is still murky as the brand-new program is being rolled out.

Multiple staff have praised the student body for near-perfect execution of lockdown drills which have become an efficient second nature, including the newly elected school board member Joe Terrien.

“I volunteer one day a week at the elementary school, and there was a drill while I was there. These kids, I swear they’re in the military because of how well they did this,” Terrien said. “It was a group of five kids from five different classrooms, so they weren’t peers. They all lined up, got in line, and then all walked to where they needed to be. It was perfect; I was really, really impressed.”

Regardless of whether state funding comes through for them, Klaubauf highlighted three security-related initiatives already in the works for Denmark schools.

1.) An architect is currently drawing up remodeling designs for the high school entrance. The front-facing glass doors could be made bullet-proof. Also, a locked entryway could be built which would open only when a staff member permitted. A similar model has been employed for years at the other three district buildings.

2.) The District will be using software from Raptor Technologies at the high school’s entry point. Non-student visitors will need to provide identification and undergo an instant background check to be admitted into the building. Klaubauf said protocol for making determinations of visitors with questionable police records will be akin to that which is already in place for vetting adult chaperones. Library patrons will be subject to the identification check when the system is implemented next school year.

3.) New software is in place to monitor the school’s computer network and alert staff to suspicious or concerning material. Klaubauf said the system has already helped identify uncouth digital behavior. The system has also issued one alert regarding gun violence; students were researching for a project on gun violence in schools.

The District will be seeking input from parents and the public about school security and will be hosting a public meeting in the middle school library on Thursday, April 19, starting at 7 p.m.

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