In 2011, Irvington Community School, Inc. (ICS) became the first public charter school in the state of Indiana to hire a School Resource Officer and establish a school police department. Since that time, ICS has been awarded six consecutive Secured School Safety Grants (SSSGs) from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (as well as a safety grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute). In early July 2018, ICS received notification of being awarded the 2019 SSSG. The 2018 award was $48,500, which ICS is required to match through compensation and benefits for the SRO. The current year SSSG supports the retrofitting of the main entrances of each of our schools. This safety improvement limits visitor access while providing an added layer of protection for our students and staff.
SRO and Chief of Police Bob Bowser emphasizes that student and staff safety is paramount at ICS. Chief Bowser provides some helpful details about the new entry process: “As visitors and parents enter each school, they will be walking into a secure area and will only be allowed access to the greater school building after authorization by office staff. For example, if you are meeting a teacher or picking up your child, you will initially enter the secure area. The ICS employee you are visiting will then come to the front desk and escort you into the building, as will your student (or will exit the building with you). We anticipate this process being very smooth. Our parents should know that school safety will always be on our radar screen, as we continue to research and implement innovations that keep everyone safe and sound.”
ICS Director of Facilities and Maintenance Jim Miller handled the vendor bidding on the project and is overseeing the work. Miller says, “The vendors have done a great job in moving this project along.” Contractors involved in the project include Central Indiana Hardware, Bell Construction, Inc., and Hoosier Glass. “Unfortunately, times have changed,” Miller notes. “Ten years ago our front doors were unlocked. Not anymore.”
To be sure, ICS has come a long way since the early days of our charter school corporation regarding safety measures. When students feel safe, they learn best. And we intend to keep it that way.