CRCSD Gearing Up for New School Year

posted by WMT News/KCRG-TV9 - 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The start of school for many students in Eastern Iowa is 8 days away and some schools in Cedar Rapids will also welcome some new changes when students walk through the front doors.

School officials tell TV9 they are constantly thinking about ways to improve their security, but recent school shootings prompted them to take action sooner.

Jefferson High School is adding security that will prevent visitors from automatically gaining access to the school.

The high school completed the Secure Entrance Project, where students may notice that the doors leading inside the school will be locked during school hours.

When visitors walk in they'll have to come through the main entrance and check in at one of two windows before being allowed inside.

Recent events involving school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida have prompted new security measures.

"That always heightens your awareness anytime that happens and it kind of forces your hand a little bit, granted we've always been a district that takes security very important but when an event happens elsewhere it does still heighten your awareness," says Jonathan Galbraith, the Cedar Rapids Community School District Buildings and Grounds Manager.

They are also adding in push buttons to allow teachers to lock the doors inside their classrooms.

This way if an intruder enters the school, teachers can quickly lock the door from the inside without having to go out into the hallway.

Starting this year students will also be allowed to park closer to the school, while staff and faculty will park further away so that students can be closer to the secured entrance of Jefferson High School.

The total cost of the Jefferson Secure Entrance project is $50,000.

Kennedy, Jefferson, and Washington High Schools also underwent new ADA renovations in their auditoriums and smaller theaters.

A larger area was added for wheelchair seating and new railings and carpet were also added to make the area safer for students and staff walking through the auditorium.

The school district says it was their goal this summer to get a lot of their older buildings up to ADA compliance to make it's safe for all students with different needs.

Metro High School also underwent some ADA improvements to one of their restrooms to make it ADA compliant.

"It's really all about equity and giving those students that have the need for ADA accessibility, the ability to have the same opportunities that any other student in any of the schools have," says Galbraith.

The renovation project at Kennedy and Jefferson cost nearly $130,000 dollars to complete .

These new additions are being funded by the Iowa Department of Education's Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund, a tax that helps pay for school infrastructure.

All these improvements should be finished just in time for the start of school on August 23, 2018.

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