SIKESTON -- Should a disaster occur in the area, Sikeston R-6 officials want to ensure their lines of communication remain open.
In providing the annual school safety report, superintendent Steve Borgsmiller, who also serves as the district's safety coordinator, said one of the goals this year is to evaluate the emergency communication system available in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
Currently the district has for all of the administrators, bus drivers and other personnel in the district its own radio system with its own frequency, Borgsmiller told the Board of Education during Tuesday's regular meeting. "However, a lot of that communication relies upon a repeater tower for us to communicate across the district," Borgsmiller said. "Should the tower go down, then the effectiveness of our system, I think, will be diminished greatly."
For this reason, Borgsmiller said he's evaluating what the district can do in the event the tower goes down.
For example, Morehouse Elementary is six miles west of the Board of Education office, and in the event of a disaster, communication may be difficult, Borgsmiller pointed out.
"And even though Southeast (Elementary) is a little over a mile from here, we have some bridges between here and there," Borgsmiller said. "And that communication could become very important."
Borgsmiller said he thinks some kind of satellite telephone system will be used and permanent emergency satellite phones will be installed at Morehouse, Southeast and probably at the building and grounds facility. He added he would likely get a portable system as well.
"In the event should everything go wrong, in those areas we should be able to have some communication," Borgsmiller said.
Borgsmiller said he will report back to the Board as time goes by.
Another goal over the next year is to provide training for safe use of the Internet by district students, Borgsmiller said.
"There's an Internet safety education program being used across the nation called i-SAFE," Borgsmiller said. "It's a program that, for example, can be taught in keyboarding class at the Middle School."
The program would teach children to be safe from Internet predators. "Our kids our at risk, and I don't think they realize just how much at risk they are," Borgsmiller said.
Borgsmiller also noted last year's school safety goals were accomplished and included: numbering and lettering external doors (inside and out) at all buildings housing students in the district, putting in writing an accident reporting procedure and conducting a tabletop emergency preparedness exercise in cooperation with the local emergency management organizations.
Borgsmiller said the exercise was conducted with the administrative staff in August.
"The Department of Public Safety set up a scenario and we worked through that," Borgsmiller said. "I think it gave all of the administrators something to take back to the buildings."
In other business Tuesday, district technology coordinator Terry Schaefer briefed the board on accomplishments over the past year. Among those were upgrading a filtering device to stop chat rooms, instant messaging, etc. and other threats to the network; trying to identify security threats; and implementing a wireless connection at Morehouse Elementary.
"We also provided training to building technicians, which are teachers. If a teacher has a computer problem in a building, they go to the technician in their building. We want to provide good training so problems will be resolved," Schaefer said.
Cindy Griffin, assistant superintendent of elementary grades and special services, also gave the annual report on the Parents as Teachers program.
This year Sikeston R-6 has five Parents as Teachers educators and 420 children ages birth to 3 and 375 children ages 3 to 5 who are participating in the program. Twenty-five teen parents are participating in the program -- down from 31 last year.
"Last year we recruited by this time 71 new families," Griffin said. "As of last week and in the previous four months, they recruited 100 new families." PAT maintained 93 percent of families involved from previous years; five percent moved to other areas; and two percent couldn't be located, Griffin said.
"Our numbers are down a bit, but we're also seeing a decline by numbers enrolled in preschool, and we're down about 80 in kindergarten," Griffin said, adding school officials think the decrease is due to a decline in the preschool population.
School will dismiss early Dec. 21 for the district's Christmas vacation. Classes will resume Jan. 4.