BELGRADE — Belgrade School Superintendent Godfrey Saunders says the district understands the importance of safety. Especially right now.
“We have to be pretty diligent about what we do and what we don’t do,” said Saunders. “We have to know what’s happening in our buildings and try to keep up to date on what’s out there.”
Belgrade schools have addressed things like security, building access and infrastructure improvements to keep its students and staff safe.
Principle, Lori Degenhart showed MTN News around Skycreek Elementary recently. As we walked through the halls, she pointed out important characteristics of the building that are there for safety.
"These doors are not here for any aesthetic value,” said Degenhart. “They’re here so they can be shut to at least slow an intruder down from getting to the rest of the building.”
The district is focused on increasing supervision and making sure students are comfortable in the classroom. The school district is now implementing a new program called Parents on Duty, to increase the number of adults in its buildings.
While the Belgrade school district hasn’t experienced the same types of violence seen in other states, superintendent Saunders says they have seen increased levels of anxiety and uncertainty among students. Saunders also says the program will hopefully create an environment that feels safer and more positive.
“It’s about connecting,” said Saunders. “The kids are going through a hard time right now. Things are not the same as they used to be.”
The Parents on Duty Program originally started in Louisiana. After looking into the program, school officials said they liked the benefits participating schools had seen, like more connections between parents and schools, increased attendance and less anxiety.
Degenhart said what students need right now is to feel safe and know that they have people on their side.
When kids trust you and you get to know them, they feel safer and that’s what we want to be a safe place for them,” said Degenhart. “If they can make a connection with an adult, that’s really great. It’s what a lot of these kids are really needing.”
Training for the Parents on Duty program will be held July, 26th from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m in the Heck-Quaw Elementary school boardroom. Parents will be learning the do’s and don’ts of schools, as well as certain laws. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to Godfrey Saunders at 406-924-2492.