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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • With an eye on enhanced security, Washington School office will likely be relocated this summer

  • Principal Denise Oliver says security has been an ongoing concern for years.
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  •     Stroll through the entrance at Washington School and you’re greeted by a sign in a door window that advises you and all other school visitors to register at the school office.
        Trouble is, unless you’re familiar with how the school interior is laid out, the school office isn’t in your line of sight. It’s actually down the hall and off to the left.
        Which is a problem, Washington Principal Denice Oliver and Superintendent Chris Bates agree, when it comes to school security and the safety and students and staff there.
        “You can go into that school and bring the 7th Cavalry with you and no one would know,” Bates said.
        So plans are in the works to relocate the office further down the hall, so that office staff will have a clear line of sight to any visitors entering, and vice versa. There’s a conference room located in that particular spot right now, but Bates said a wall could potentially be knocked down and the “office suite” could simply slide down the hall some.
        Oliver said Crookston Police Chief Tim Motherway was told of the idea while monitoring a recent lock down drill at Washington, and “he thinks it’s an excellent idea.”
        Oliver said the less than ideal office location has been a concern for years, but a small teacher’s lounge didn’t provide adequate space, and relocating to the cafeteria triggered one major issue: where to relocate the cafeteria? Attempts to secure a grant for security cameras were unsuccessful, so the issue remained unresolved, she said.
        Until Bates made one of his weekly visits to the school recently, Oliver said, and suggested the conference room as a possible office location. Oliver said it was never really considered because walls would need to be removed. But Bates seems to think it can be done, so the goal is to move forward on it this summer so it’s finished by the start of school in the fall.
        “We are always seeking ways to make our schools safer,” Oliver said. “We have a crisis time that reviews our safety plan and safety drills and current practices of safety each month. It is our belief that moving the office would be a great improvement.”

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