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GCSD’s summer projects addressing safety, security

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

When students return to school in the fall, the Glenwood Community School District hopes to have its own  “What I did on my summer vacation…” essay long complete.

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The GCSD is spending this summer, according to Superintendent Devin Embray, about $300,000 on more than a dozen construction projects around the district in June, July and August.

“There’s a lot of things going on,” Embray said. “Every year there’s projects and hopefully we can settle into a rhythm that gets things done.”

Topping the list of projects this summer is the $175,000 lighting project at the soccer fields and security improvements at all four district schools.

Work is expected to begin on the soccer lights in July with an anticipated completion date of mid-August. The district completed work on new bleachers and press boxes at the softball, baseball and soccer fields this spring.

The high school, middle school  and West and Northeast elementaries will see an overhaul of all of their current safety and security protocols. Installation of new cameras, intercoms and access control locks on main entrance doors began this spring. Northeast Elementary, which formerly did not have classroom doors will have doors installed this summer.

When the work is complete all district classrooms will have locking doors that can be secured from the inside. Kid’s Place, located on the Glenwood Resource Center campus, will also be adding a security door entry system.

“All of our buildings in the district are upgraded with digital cameras and all of the classrooms in the district will be configured to lock from the inside by the beginning of the school year,” Embray said.

As part of the security improvements the district is also updating its badge identification system for all district employees.     

The district is looking into bullet resistant glass for school vestibules but that is still in the research phase, Embray said.

“It’s a new industry,” Embray said of the bullet resistant glass. “We’re looking into it and it’s improving as we speak. We hope we’ll get some better products and better costs as we move into the future.”

Among the maintenance projects to be completed this summer are window replacements at West Elementary, a boiler rebuild at Northeast and window replacement and parking lot work at the middle school. The former art and industrial art classrooms, located behind the middle school, are also being relocated inside the building. That space will be renovated to house the alternative high school and student services.

The district’s work this summer isn’t confined to physical construction; the district is also addressing its logistical plans. The district’s core safety committee is working with Homeland Security and local law enforcement to update crisis response and disaster plans.

“We’re trying to control who has access (to buildings) but when you talk about inclement weather, we’re trying to have the proper places and locations and transfer points in place to off-load kids from one to another, if for instance, a gas line or water main broke or a natural disaster,” Embray said.

A recent “super board meeting” gathering the district’s board with the Glenwood City Council and the Mills County Supervisors the idea the district partnering with the city on an aquatic center that would include a hardened, disaster shelter “safe room” as part of the locker room attached to a new auxiliary gymnasium at the high school.    Embray, who estimates such a aquatic center/gymnasium/locker room project could cost as much as $3 million, has discussed the project with Larry Hurst, Mills County’s Director of Emergency Management, about federal mitigation grants to help off-set costs of a potential project.

“I think they are amenable to the idea of a partnership to look at an aquatic center tied to the school but it’s really in the infancy stage right now,” Embray said.