School safety is an area that Daleville City Schools is working to address this school year.
According to Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps, the system has about $251,000 from the Advancement and Technology Fund that is allotted for various projects. This fund covers purchases in the following categories: repairs or maintenance of facilities, classroom and instructional support, insuring facilities, transportation, purchase of technology and equipment, and school security measures.
Soon after she joined the DCS team, Stamps said she met with department directors, administrators and others to address the needs of the system. The “most pressing needs” were found to be technology and safety upgrades, along with other miscellaneous transportation and facility needs.
Stamps said the proposed 2020 fiscal year budget will include plans to upgrade the camera system for Windham Elementary School, add more fencing at Daleville High School to “fill in the gaps to secure all three sides of the high school” and upgrade bus cameras.
“That’s kind of what we felt like would meet our most pressing safety and security and transportation needs,” she said. “People should be seeing some visible signs of security here at the high school in fencing, and then new cameras in more places inside the elementary school, new cameras on the buses and some new facility improvements in the restrooms.”
Additional safety upgrades are already underway at WES with the start of installation of safety doors, although these are not part of the system funding for projects.
The safety doors and additional safety system will require visitors to be “buzzed” into the school.
“It’s a different thing, but it’s very important,” Stamps said. “We’re looking at finalizing that soon, and then possibly, in the future, doing something to Daleville High School.”
In addition to the physical changes to increase safety, the system welcomed a new face to a returning position: school resource officer.
This year, Sean Bryant was hired as the new system SRO, starting in the position on Aug. 2. He has five years of experience in law enforcement, working with the Daleville Police Department for about a year before taking this position.
“I watch the security cameras, which are everywhere on campus,” he said. “I do walkthroughs throughout the day. Sometimes, I go sit in a classroom just to be there.
“I walk around a lot. I drive in between campuses. Sometimes, I help with the traffic in the morning time at the elementary school.”
Bryant said he is also involved with school drills.
“I’m mainly involved in all the things that would, I guess, involve a normal police officer,” he said. “I’m just constantly on duty here at the school.”
Bryant said he will lead classes for students, such as bullying or DUI classes, throughout the school year. He said he also hopes to see the system take part in an active shooter training.
For the students of the system, he said he hopes they feel comfortable talking to him.
“The number one thing I want them to know is, if they want to talk to somebody, they can talk to me,” he said.
In order to be more accessible to students, faculty and staff, and parents, Bryant said he created a Facebook profile, SRO Bryant. He said this provides a way for any individual, especially students, who wish to speak to him privately to do so.
“The majority of students don’t want to just walk up to the SRO and say, ‘Hey. This is what’s going on,’” he said. “Sometimes, you just need to have a private conversation with me, and it’s hard to do that, even if you know where my office is.
“I want them to feel like they’re able to come talk to me, that I’m a human being. I’m a dad; I understand what’s going on. I’ve been to high school. I’m relatable.”
He said the profile also allows him to publicly comment on any situation occurring at the schools.
“It’s on there, just as a resource,” he said. “The first thing people look at is Facebook nowadays. Normally, there’s something wrong in (a social media post), there’s something that’s not true.
“It’s just a more official way of somebody who’s in the know to say, ‘Hey. This is what’s going on.’”
For parents, Bryant said he will treat all the students as his own children.
“I’m going to look at it like these are my kids,” he said. “Every day I come to school, I’m going to look at it like I’ve got 1,200 adopted children now, and I’m responsible for their safety. That makes it easier for me because I’m a dad. I know I’m not their actual parent, but I’m going to treat them like I am. That’s just an easier way to protect them.
“I’m also extremely grateful for the opportunity to be entrusted with protecting 1,200 students because that’s my full-time job, keeping them safe throughout the day. That’s a big responsibility, and I’m appreciative to have been given that opportunity.”
Stamps said having an SRO is “important” for the system and law enforcement.
“They’re very important,” she said. “SROs are wonderful. They have… such good rapport with the kids, and they can identify with them. It puts law enforcement in a good light to our kids because they see them as a help.
“We teach them in kindergarten that police are our friends, they are community helpers. It puts the law enforcement in a good light to our kids.”
Stamps, calling herself a “mother hen,” said the safety and security of the system is a priority of hers and the system’s administration.
“We’re looking at trying to make our facilities as safe and secure as we can for our students and our staff,” she said.