Wichita school district uses near $1 million in grant money for safety improvements

WICHITA, Kan. A new year for Wichita Public Schools accompanies changes coming with children's safety in mind. The district is using a grant from The State of Kansas to pay for improvements.

The grant will pay for some pricier, high-tech upgrades, but it's some low-tech upgrades administrators say, could make a big difference. Some of the grant money went to pay for things like deadbolts and corresponding stickers the number each and every door in a school from the inside and out.

Wichita Public Schools Director of Safety Services Terri Moses says soon, virtually every classroom door in the district will lock from the inside.

"Under the old idea of a safe classroom, (doors) locked from the outside and nobody was really concerned with locking doors from the inside," Moses says.

But times have changed, and so has technology.

Also on the list of upgrades is switching security cameras from analog to digital. This will not only give a clearer image, but could allow law enforcement to see what's happening inside the building from outside.

In all Wichita Public Schools received $921,000, less than what it asked for, but enough to make an impact, as, administrators say, every penny will go toward making students safer.

Personal protection expert Joe Schillaci commends high and low-tech approaches to increasing student safety. But he says preparing students with a plan ahead of the school year could be the most important measure of all.

"How simple it is for us to have these conversations with the students, the administrators, the parents," he says."That doesn't cost anything. ...The absolute most important thing we can do as a administrators, parents, students, is constantly be communicating with each other. Plan ahead. Don't plan to fail. Plan to succeed. (If) your kid is in a situation that he's caught off guard, at least now he has tools to do something, to react versus just freezing and not knowing what to do."

Isely Traditional Magnet Elementary School near 53rd North and Woodlawn in Bel Aire, received some of the first safety upgrades with the available grant money, but all Wichita public schools will receive some sort of upgrade in the coming months.