EL-G School Board reviews safety program

of The Review staff
by Rodney Schroeter

ELKHART LAKE — At the School Board’s Monday meeting, District Superintendent Dr. Ann Buechel Haack introduced the A.L.I.C.E. program, which is a guide for action if the school is menaced by an active shooter.

Elkhart Lake Police Department Officer Scott Niemi explained some of the program’s features, saying, “State guidelines and federal guidelines now want schools and businesses to teach their staff and employees to take more of an active role if there is a type of mass shooting or active shooter.”

Of several guideline programs available, A.L.I.C.E. was chosen for the school district, from which the following is taken:

A. Alert. Can be anything that alerts you to a possible active shooter.

L. Lockdown. A semi-secure starting point from which to make survival decisions.

I. Inform. Use any means necessary to pass on real-time information.

C. Counter. The use of simple, proactive techniques if you are confronted by an active shooter.

E. Evacuate. Remove yourself from the danger zone as quickly as possible.

“Statistically, you have a better chance of being hit by lightning, than ever being involved in a school shooting,” said Niemi. “But we should be prepared. And this is basically what we’re doing.”

The program provides videos for all grade levels.

The board heard from two new staff members: Samantha Hofacker, elementary and middle school guidance; and Kayla Groh-Bardon, district financial administrative assistant.

Buechel Haack presented a packet describing an update of the elementary school playground equipment. The equipment is designed to be “inclusive,” allowing students with physical challenges to participate. Phase 1 of the project would cost $150,000, of which Buechel Haack said an organization has already donated $40,000. She expressed confidence that the entire amount could be covered by donations.

The board discussed various aspects of the playground, its use and its access, during school hours and outside of school hours, then voted unanimously to proceed with Phase 1 of the playground update.

The 2016 tax collection numbers were distributed to the board. The total levy for the year was $5,477,474.

Board member Scott Heinig expressed appreciation for the tour of newly-refurbished facilities during the recent annual meeting.

Student Council representative Aryka Klemme summarized student activities: Homecoming week and its associated activities, Clash Day and activities benefitting juvenile diabetes.

Elementary Principal Deb Hammann’s highlights of activities in junior kindergarten through eighth grade included distribution of Chromebooks to fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms, Chromebook education to several grades, basic computer coding being taught to seventh-graders and a fun run coming up at the end of September to raise money for field trips.

High School Principal Ryan Faris told the board the year is off to a great start, both academically and in regard to clubs and athletic teams. He mentioned Leadership Day (the theme of which was vocal leadership and leading by example), Homecoming and the pumpkin and mum sale at the end of this week. “I’m sure we’re going to hear tons of things from our clubs and organizations,” he said.

The board unanimously voted to:

• Accept several contributions to the school, with thanks and appreciation for the contributors.

• Approve a contract for a district financial administrative assistant.

• Revisions to several district policies.

• Changing the name of the compliance officer from former High School Principal Jim Brown, to Ryan Faris, the new principal, where the compliance officer is named in the district’s policies.

• Approve a Future Farmer of America field trip to Indianapolis, and a high school band trip to Chicago.

• Approve new Science textbooks for grades 3 to 5.

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