A group of parents has formed an organization to raise money for school safety improvements.
The organization is Parents Supporting School Safety, and it hopes to raise $46,000 for communication devices and panic buttons to alert law enforcement of an emergency.
?As school shootings and other safety issues continue to arise, parents, school officials, students and other community members worry about the safety of educational facilities,? stated a flyer the group produced.
The flyer indicates that the list of items for purchase resulted from talking to school officials and law enforcement about their needs. The group hopes that these items will increase response time to an emergency and alert staff more quickly of an intruder.
The group has divided its fundraising campaign into three stages, starting with the highest priority. Its priorities are:
1) Communication devices, $24,000. These devices work like a panic button. As soon as they are hit, they will send a signal to strobe lights in every classroom alerting everyone to an internal immediate threat.
2) Walkie-talkies, $2,400. These devices will allow communication between staff, in the event of an emergency, to continue without typing up phone lines or cellular signals.
3) Law enforcement direct dial, $19,600. Once the communication devices are purchased and implemented, additional technology can be installed to alert all local emergency responders (such as police, fire, medical) whenever the button is pressed. This will shorten response time and ensure all appropriate calls are made without anyone having to actually pick up a phone and call.
The group consists of four people: Jennifer Larsen, Kristi Polonsky, Alissa Ward and Amy Jones. Jones said she got involved because she has two children in the district, incoming sophomore daughter Olivia and incoming senior son Caden.
After the school shooting earlier this year that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, Larsen sent a message to several moms in the district inquiring if they could do more to make schools safer. She told them she couldn?t watch another school shooting without doing something locally to feel she was part of the solution.
The four women who went on to form the group met with school superintendent Laurie Noll and facilities director Jeff Koontz to find out what safety devices the district already had and which ones it needed.
?We asked them, ?If funding wasn?t an issue, what else could we be doing as a school to be safe??? Jones said. ?That?s how our solutions came about.?
The parent group also met with emergency management personnel including Fairfield Fire Chief Scott Vaughan, Fairfield Police Chief David Thomas and Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton. They ran the ideas they got from Noll and Koontz by those three, and that?s when they settled on the top three priorities for fundraising.
?Our schools have done a lot to keep our students safe,? Jones said. ?We weren?t approaching this as though our schools aren?t safe. We wanted to make sure that if there is something the school could do more of, we wanted to support them.?
Parents Supporting School Safety is now sending out its flyers to parents in the district. The group can reach its goal if it can raise $27.26 per student in the district. It is asking parents to donate that amount, or whatever they can, for each child in their household. Checks can be payable to Jefferson County Education Foundation at 200 E. Adams Ave. in Fairfield. Residents can pay online at the group?s website at www.fairfieldpsss.com, or by donating during school registration.