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Dr. Higgins: A closer look at the safety features in upcoming bond issue election

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools BY DR. CHAD HIGGINS

Our OneMa1ze community often hears me say that our No. 1 priority is the safety of our students and employees. In this era of school safety, our Facilities Planning Committee of parents, students, and other community members and our Maize Board of Education agree with employees and members of our district's Crisis Committee that Maize USD 266 must seek to continually upgrade what we are providing right now in terms of school safety.

I hope by now you have had a chance to learn more about the bond plan that our community voters will consider on Aug. 27. It is a vision for growth, safety, and opportunity that will have zero impact on the local tax levy but big changes for students. Part of this bond issue, like the district's OneMa1ze, OneVision strategic plan, focuses on safety:

  • Improved access control and security cameras: The district has an outdated building access control system and outdated security cameras. The current access control system does not allow the capability for the district to monitor exterior doors that may be jarred open and operates on an antiquated platform. The current video surveillance system performs below its capacity due to limited server space and lacks many of the features available today. The bond would help close gaps in coverage.

 

  • More secure classroom doors: Teachers currently use magnets as a way to quickly lock their classroom doors in the event of a school emergency. Upgrades to classroom locking capabilities will provide staff members and students with an increased barrier should the need arise.

 

  • New storm shelter: Complete High School Maize, the district's nationally award-winning alternative high school, does not have its own storm shelter. In inclement weather, students and educators must leave their school and flee to take shelter at a neighboring district building by going outside and into potentially harmful and threatening severe weather.

 

  • Secure swimming space: Without a district swimming pool, the Maize High School and Maize South High School swim teams practice at the Greater Wichita YMCA's northwest location. While the YMCA is a great community partner, students share practice spaces, as well as restrooms and locker rooms, with the YMCA’s membership. This does not provide the safety and security Maize USD 266 desires for all of its students.

 

  • Safer elementary school playgrounds: Our kindergarten through fifth-grade students spend their recesses on play spaces that have gravel, sand, and mulch. Windy days mean scratchy eyes, a fall may mean splinters, and rocks in shoes are a daily occurrence for some. The bond plan would provide rubber pellets and irrigated grass and comparable, comfortable environments at each of the five elementary schools.

I encourage you to visit www.usd266.com/bond for additional information about the bond issue. Please note that safety-related issues are included in both question No. 1 and No. 2 in the bond issue. Also, please be aware that the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election is Aug. 6.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Maize USD 266.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com