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A Step Toward Safety


Decals on a window at R.E. Jewell Elementary school. - CHRIS MILLER
  • Chris Miller
  • Decals on a window at R.E. Jewell Elementary school.
Entering Bend's High Lakes Elementary School, it may look like nothing has changed: the arch over the entrance has the same gold lettering and trees shade either side. Students, however, have probably noticed one small difference: the presence of a secure lobby, one of 12 Bend-La Pine schools to receive the system thus far.

The secure lobbies function as an important way to keep students safe. After school hours start, doors are locked, and visitors enter through a glass vestibule before proceeding into the main part of the building. There they check in with the attendance office and gain a badge before being buzzed into the school.

Secure lobbies were already in place at six schools in the Bend-La Pine School district before the end of the last school year, including Pacific Crest Middle School, Silver Rail, Juniper, Highland, RE Jewell and Buckingham Elementary Schools. Along with High Lakes, Lava Ridge, Ponderosa, Pine Ridge, William E. Miller Elementary Schools and Sky View Middle School have secure lobbies in place for this school year. All other Bend-La Pine schools will have systems in place by early 2020.

"[The lobbies will have] glass doors so that the staff can see if people are coming into the schools, will have a good line of sight, and... there will be at least one additional camera in each entryway," said Scott Bojanowski, school safety coordinator.

This is not Bend-La Pine's first swing at safe schools; many schools are already equipped with cameras and tools such as First Step, an app on students' iPads that allows them to reach out for help with safety concerns or counseling.

The push for increased safety came from Superintendent Shay Mikalson. Following the Parkland, Fla. shooting in February, Mikalson outlined plans for secure lobby systems. Funds for the lobbies come through the May 2017 school bond measure.

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Hannah Williford

Intern // Source Weekly

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