Boardman district implements new safety measures
By Jordyn Grzelewski
As students get ready to start the school year, Boardman Local School District prepares to integrate several new policies into schools, according to Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.
“[The drug testing] is probably the big thing this year,” Lazzeri said, referring to the district’s new mandatory drug testing for all high school athletes and students who drive to school.
Testing for drivers and athletes participating in fall sports wrapped up last week. Random testing and testing for winter and spring sports will take place throughout the rest of the school year, and Lazzeri said the district will have mandatory drug testing for all students involved in extracurricular activities starting next school year.
Another change taking place in all seven schools is the installation of the Raptor security system, which scans the identification cards of all visitors before they can move throughout a school building and runs their information through a sex offender database.
“It adds a nice layer of security that we didn’t have before,” said Tim
Saxton, director of operations for the district. “It’s one step better than the security level we had before.”
The installation of the Raptor system is just one phase of a comprehensive security upgrade the district is undertaking, which is being paid for with levy funds and grant money.
Other security measures include installing better signage for school entrances so that all visitors are directed to the main entrances of buildings and have to go through security measures to enter the building, and the construction of “man traps,” which are vestibules between the interior of the school and the outside in which a visitor has to make contact with a school official before being allowed into the school.
“We’re excited to get this implemented. I think it’s going to be a big positive for our district,” Saxton said.
The Raptor system is now in place at all seven of the schools. Stadium Drive Elementary School is the only school with a man trap. Saxton said he hopes to have them built at other schools within the next year or two.
Evelyn Stanton, a technology teacher at the high school, said she is pleased with the security upgrades.
“I think every teacher in the United States is concerned about safety with everything that’s going on in our country,” she said. “As a teacher, I’m very happy this is in place ... [Students’] safety is the ultimate priority for us.”
Another feature of the Raptor system is the ability of school officials to create custom alerts so they can flag down any visitors with whom they want to take extra precautions. Officials can also create security alerts that are sent to security officials and members of the administration.
“We’ve partnered with the Boardman Police Department to have one of their officers be our district security supervisor,” Saxton said, another addition to security measures.
Another addition to the district for this year is new turf at the high-school field. “Phase one of the new Spartan Stadium will be completed shortly,” Lazzeri said, referring to the ongoing effort to refurbish the high school’s stadium facilities. “And that facility will be open for soccer in September.” Saxton said the turf is slated to be installed by Labor Day weekend.
Another facet of the district’s anti-drug effort will continue this year, Lazzeri said.
The high school will host the second annual “Yes Fest” in November, and this year hopes to include eighth graders.
“We have a day set to help kids find themselves, in terms of reaching out to the community,” Lazzeri said. “This is about saying yes to positive behavior, rather than saying no to drugs”
“This is not just hearing a speaker. We have local agencies coming in ... [And] kids can find out how they can get involved in the community through volunteering,” he said.
Lazzeri said the district will have between 20 and 25 new faculty members this year. Bart Smith, previously the assistant principal at Center Middle School, will take over as principal at Glenwood Middle School.
The board of education will start the school year with a new member, Mark Fulks. Kimberly Poma took over as president of the board earlier this summer, following the death of board president Nik Amstutz in June.
In late spring or early summer, the district will begin to work on a strategic plan for Boardman schools.
“We will be convening a strategic planning committee to help formulate [a] new vision,” Lazzeri said. “We’re going to get input to see what our community wants.”