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Rushford-Peterson addresses building security

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jul 25th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Village Education

The district has ramped up its protocol for usage and opted for restricted access by key, following a concern brought forth by board member Taylor Peterson regarding unauthorized and unsupervised use of the facility. Under the new plan, access to the weight room and gym will be limited. During the school year, both sites will be open to currently-enrolled R-P students from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and then again from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., as long as the use does not conflict with school-sponsored or pre-scheduled activities.

During the summer, the sites will be open to organized student use/captains’ practice during scheduled times, which will be set through the facility scheduler on the R-P website. Scheduled times will be posted at the gym and on the district calendar.

Additionally, an individual, 18 or older, may reserve the gym for a private function for a fee of $25 per four-hour time slot. They will be required to sign a waiver and will take full responsibility for all individuals who participate. They will be granted an entry key to access during the time slot, which must be returned immediately after via lockbox.

Individuals, 18 and over and out of high school, who would like access to the weight room, may purchase a key for an annual fee of $200. Allowing access to the northwest entry door only, the keys will be individually numbered and will allow access for that individual only. The district was quick to point out that an individual may not purchase an annual key and give admittance to others. These individuals will also be required to sign a waiver indicating full responsibility for injuries and damages that may occur.

Another key area revolves around the children of staff members utilizing the facilities. According to the new plan, staff members may only allow their children access to the gym or weight room if they are currently enrolled in the district as students and if supervised. Staff members, and their children, who abuse the privilege, or allow other children to access the building, will be held to the same standard as other community members.

New safety measures include rekeying all outside doors to the Rushford building with a laser-cut, non-duplicable key and rekeying the northwest door to allow access to the gym and weight room only, using the same technology. Additionally, five entry points at the facility are being eliminated, reducing the number of monitoring points. The district will continue to utilize a camera system monitoring the northwest entry door, keeping a visual record of entry. A key “fob” system was researched and deemed to costly, at nearly $30,000.

“This is a good way to address the issue with what we’ve already got in place,” noted Superintendent Ehler. Implementation of the plan begins August 18.

The district has also revamped its current procedures for collection on overdue accounts. Largely related to meal accounts and school-age childcare costs, the district currently contacts parents and then follows the arduous process of trying to collect on its own, a time and cost consuming option. In the new procedure, the district would still contact parents first, but if balances remain, the accounts will be forwarded to Advantage Collection Professionals for remedy. The agency will charge the district a flat 30 percent contingency fee. However, if the account requires legal action, the contingency fee is 40 percent. Utilizing the agency, delinquency will be reflected in credit scores of individuals.

“It’s enough of a problem that I would like to secure professional services,” noted Ehler. “It helps motivate parents to remember. Our hands are tied otherwise.” It was also noted that parents can access accounts and apply payment online through the district website.

There will be three, four-year term openings on the Rushford-Peterson Board of Education next year. The terms of Angela Colbenson, Daniel Munson, and Greg Smith are expiring and they are not seeking reelection. The filing period for interested candidates are Tuesday, July 29, 8 a.m., through Tuesday, August 2, 5 p.m. Affidavits of candidacy are available in the district office, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., during the filing period only. General elections are to be held Tuesday, November 4.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is Monday, August 18, at 5:30 p.m., in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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