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ISD 181 Viewpoint: Safety and security in our schools

Charlie Campbell

In a few weeks, the polls will open and voters in our district can begin deciding how Brainerd Public Schools will address the challenges our 12 aging school buildings pose as we strive to fulfill our mission to educate all learners in our community.

One of the top priorities of the Blueprint 181 proposal that will be on the ballot is safety and security for all students, staff and visitors to our school buildings. This priority is woven into each of the three ballot questions. As the Brainerd High School Activities Director and as a parent, I am familiar with these issues in our elementary, middle and high schools.

When my children were in elementary school, I noticed the long walk from the entrance to the office and that a person could go anywhere in that school before being intercepted by staff. When our elementary schools were built, security was not a concern and the trend was to nestle the office in the middle of the building. Today's standard requires visitors to enter a school through a controlled entrance where staff are able to monitor all persons coming into and going from the building. Question 1 on the ballot provides for, among other things, the installation of controlled entrances at each of our elementary schools.

The way we think about school safety has changed enough in 14 years that the entrance at Forestview Middle School, the newest building in our district, is outdated. Again, the idea is that visitors ought to enter the office before having access to the rest of the building. Question 2 on the ballot does this for Forestview Middle School.

Brainerd High School currently exists as one campus with two buildings where students and staff move between buildings all day long. In order to best facilitate the constant shuffle of people between North and South Campus, doors in both buildings are unlocked and uncontrolled. The uncontrolled doors also make it challenging to ensure participants, officials and spectators are in the right place before, during, and after the myriad events hosted by BHS.

In addition to the hourly journey between campuses, approximately 700 BHS student performers must walk nearly four blocks between the high school and Tornstrom auditorium at the Washington Building to rehearse and perform for our band, choir, orchestra and theater programs. Students cross busy Fifth Street, even busier Business 371/South Sixth Street, and then Seventh Street.

Question 2 integrates the high school fully onto a single, expanded North Campus that includes upgraded security measures, updated classrooms, a new gymnasium, an eight-lane pool and an auditorium to keep our ninth-12th grade students under one roof.

Question 3 provides for increased seating capacity and improved sound, light, and acoustics to the auditorium which will transform it into a performing arts center that will give students and community members world-class experiences.

Starting Feb. 23 any eligible voter can stop into the Crow Wing County Historical Courthouse to vote early, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5pm. Election day across the district in 15 polling places will be Tuesday, April 10, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please vote!

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