NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Noblesville Schools says it will be making several safety enhancements following the recent shooting at West Middle School that injured a 13-year-old student and a teacher.
The school district said Tuesday that initial recommendations are the direct result of a continuous improvement safety review officials were pursuing prior to the shooting, and from analysis from the district’s Safe Schools Committee. The superintendent said some items, including eliminating portable classrooms and adding school resource officers, were added afterwards. More recommendations may follow.
While the district says specific details of safety plans cannot be shared publicly, the initial recommendations generally include:
- Elimination of all portable classrooms
- Additional school resource officers
- Enhanced facility structures
- Increased facility lockdown tools
- Additional surveillance equipment
- Classroom barricading products
- School parking lot access control
- Additional technology for increased safety communications
- Additional counseling staff and mental health supports
CBS4 recently highlighted the dangers of portable classrooms, which are trailers used to house students when there’s not enough space in schools. A local parent group called S.O.S (Saving Our Students) Noblesville had been pushing for officials to ditch the problematic practice.
“We are pleased that we are able to address community concerns by eliminating portable classrooms and adding safety enhancements to our already comprehensive list of safety measures,” said Dr. Beth Niedermeyer, superintendent of Noblesville Schools. “Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, Noblesville Schools will have a trained police officer in every school. We are so appreciative of the Noblesville Police Department for agreeing to share the cost of additional school resource officers."
Dr. Niedermeyer said she can’t be certain if these improvements would have prevented the recent shooting.
“It’s hard to say what would have prevented that, but I think many of these will certainly help bring peace of mind to parents, and help make students feel safer,” said the superintendent.
The school district unveiled the recommendations at the first school board meeting Tuesday night since the shooting, after hero teacher Jason Seaman and other NWMS staff were honored with a standing ovation.
The school safety coordinator said during his presentation they were also researching metal detectors and classroom barricading products, and recommending there be a full time school safety director.
"As a member of the SOS Noblesville parent group with over 1,700 members, we are very happy that the portable trailers have been removed," Lisa Duell, a member of the group SOS Noblesville, said. "We look forward to partnering and working with Noblesville school and the hope is that the initiatives that they put into place fully meet the Department of Homeland Security guidelines for best practices for safe schools here in Indiana."
More than a dozen parents and community members also spoke during the meeting. Some expressed gratitude for the response, specifically to Mr. Seaman, while others raised their own concerns and ideas to improve safety.
"It sounds like the school is taking action and really listening to the community and wanting to really truly make our schools safer," parent Angie Moller said.
"There's still a lot more I'd like to see but it takes time," parent Christie Hurst said.
Noblesville Schools says funding is already in place for some of the initial safety enhancements. The school corporation is also exploring other funding options through state and federal resources and may ask the community to support a referendum this November to provide additional funding for safety initiatives and teacher compensation.
“We’re still estimating all of the costs, so we don’t have final cost structures yet, but it’s going to take some time and we’re willing to do what it takes,” said Dr. Niedermeyer.
The district will host several initiatives this summer as it continues to evaluate further ways to strengthen safety. A Community Safety Summit and a Safety Panel with law enforcement will be scheduled soon.
“Safety in today’s world is a complex issue and there are no easy answers,” said Dr. Niedermeyer. “We are committed to working together with law enforcement, community leaders, parents and the overall community to best protect students. We will be purposeful in our approach to safety enhancements and will make decisions based on what experts recommend.”