By Jill Richardson
Kuna Melba News reporter
In the event of a violent incident, the Melba School District currently has no efficient means of communication between all of the elementary, junior high and high schools. The phone systems are over 20 years old and severely outdated. They are without a school wide communication or alert system.
“We need to update the phones system because half the elementary and the junior high do not have phones. There is no way to contact anyone in case of an emergency,” said Superintendent Andy Grover.
While the high school has phones in each room and an intercom system to alert people to emergency situations, when it comes to the junior high and elementary there are no effective phone communications. There is only a plan in place to activate a phone tree system and send teachers and administrator out to the adjacent buildings to inform those classes of emergency situations.
For example, if the elementary went into lockdown, the procedure is to initiate the phone tree, calling room to room, lock the doors and close curtains. To alert the round building, which holds several lower grade classrooms, it may be necessary for the principal or secretary to run across the courtyard to inform the teachers in that building.
This increases the reaction and lockdown time from having an alarm or immediate alert system and could possible put people in danger.
Melba School District has listed the improvements as emergency status therefor bypassing much red tape and expediting the installation of a new phone system.
“We do not have an intercom at the elementary. This makes it an emergency to get communication to those rooms,” said Grover.
The cost of the upgrades is $56,000.
Superintendent Grover is looking into getting permission from the grant administrators for using funding from a grant the district already has for the $44,000 to change the switches and the remaining $11,000 would come from the fund balance account.
If Grover cannot get permission to use the grant, then the entire $56,000 would come from the fund balance. The school district is moving ahead with plans regardless of where the money will come from and plans to have the system in place by March 1st.
“The upgrade would allow better access not only for the upgraded phone system but for future connects for computers as well,” said Grover.