Local districts enhance school safety for the upcoming year

NOW: Local districts enhance school safety for the upcoming year

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Staying on top of school safety and security is the number one priority at the School City of Mishawaka. 

“We can’t expect to do the same things we did 20 years ago because the realities in terms of safety and security looks so dramatically different, even from five years ago,” said Kory LaBonne, Director of Human Resources and School Safety at the School City of Mishawaka. 

This year, schools in the district will be enhanced with a new safety software that centralizes all security information, an increased presence of student resource officers, and updated PA systems that allow for quicker communication within the building.  

“In the case of an emergency, best practice would be that you or I, anyone, would have the means by which they can notify everyone else in the building when these types of events happen,” LaBonne explained. 

They’re also cracking down on vaping.  

In the middle and high school, new vape detectors will let an administrator know through text message when vape use is detected anywhere in the building.  

“It has different detectors in terms of moisture, heat indexes, those types of things,” said LaBonne. “Again, very technical, but would permit us to say ‘Hey, something here that’s happening that’s different than it was five minutes ago.’”  

Prevention programs that address attendance and behavior issues, as well as bullying are another top focus in Mishawaka schools this year.  

“Social, emotional learning is a big step in schools today and we’re working hard to have a school social worker in every single building,” Dave Troyer said, Director of Student Services at the School City of Mishawaka. 

An important reminder for everyone is that student safety starts before they even step inside school.  

“We have officers that go out and follow school buses, in some cases even ride school buses, and then we also have officers watch crosswalks at schools looking for stop-arm violations,” explained Craig Allebach, Kosciusko County Traffic Safety Partnership Grant Administrator. 

Down in Kosciusko County, authorities will heavily enforce bus stop-arm violations to make sure all students are protected and to prevent motorists from catching a hefty fine.  

“It can become a very critical time for their safety especially getting on and off those buses and if motorists aren’t aware then there can be some tragedies that happen,” says Allebach. 

The best way to ensure the highest quality school safety every year, year-round, is to speak up if something doesn’t feel safe.  

“If you see something, say something,” LaBonne said. “That philosophy extends to our students, staff, and families at-large as well.”  

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