School safety top of mind as classes resume in central Indiana

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BEECH GROVE, Ind. – Summer is over for some Hoosier school districts as classes have resumed in some parts of central Indiana. But as districts look forward to starting a new school year, the topic of school safety is still dominating the conversation.

Many school officials, while in the process of changing their own safety plans, say they are still waiting for guidance from the state level. Earlier this year, Governor Eric Holcomb assigned a task force to come up with a set of safety recommendations by August 1.

So far, the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, who are part of the task force, are remaining tight lipped about the recommendations until they’re released. However, a spokesperson for the DOE confirmed that once the recommendations hit his desk, the governor will decide which are implemented and when.

The Perry Township School District, which began classes Wednesday, says they’ve already made some changes to their policies, which include all guests now having to present a government issued ID before they can enter any building, and all teachers and employees having to have personalized identification badges with their photos on them to make sure everyone knows who they are.

Beech Grove City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Kaiser says their district is also making some changes. Kaiser says they are in the process of hiring consultants to evaluate the safety of their facilities and installing up to 30 cameras at Beech Grove High School which would be accessible by police in case of an emergency. Kaiser says the district is also working with the city’s mayor to ensure a school resource officer is in every district building.

“I think the most important thing we can do is put resources into more counselors, and resource officers, not because we need someone there, a police officer, but it’s that relationship with that officer,” Kaiser said.

Like the overwhelming majority of Hoosier school districts, Beech Grove also took the state up on its offer to be supplied with free wand-style metal detectors. However, Kaiser says the district has yet to come up with a feasible plan for their use.

“I believe the biggest thing to create a safe school is to have great relationships with kids,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser also added, like many others, the district is eagerly awaiting state recommendations.

“We’ll be glad to look at the recommendations, look at our budgetary process, and it will be a good planning tool for the future,” he said.

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