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Blue Valley School District celebrating a safe summer after implementing key safety changes

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Posted at 6:46 PM, May 25, 2023

LEAWOOD, Kan. — The Blue Valley School District has been working to implement many important safety changes and now that the school year is over, KSHB 41 wanted to check in.

Prairie Star Elementary School in Leawood finalized its week with yearbook signings. Dozens of kids got in autograph lines for a sendoff full of signatures with hearts, smiley faces and well wishes for a great summer.

Prairie Star Elementary Principal Stacey Sperry believes it was a great school year.

“We can celebrate so much, so much to be thankful for,” Sperry said.

She said that’s because safety was top of mind.

“All of my staff said they felt comforted by having this here,” she said.

In January, BVSD installed a crisis alert system attached to the badge around every employee’s lanyard across the district.

Sperry said they used it for a medical emergency.

“The teacher did exactly what she was supposed to do. Clicked it three times, the nurse and I went there, and we were and intervened as needed,” she said.

Now there's no more phoning where you’re at or sending a student down to the office.

Hundreds of sensors and hubs across the buildings can provide your location and, when pressed, can send help in real time.

“In every school shooting that you’ve seen through the U.S., there’s always been communication problems,” said Director of Safety and Security at BVSD Dan Carney. “Until this came along, we didn’t have a way to intervene that quickly.”

Any employee can lock down the building or send for help.

“The strobes go off, the computers are taken over and we can lock down the building in less than a minute,” he said. “There have been over 350 uses of the badges throughout the school district for staff alerts."

Carney said it’s been used for situations like behavior issues, elopements and medical emergencies.

“I think that gives teacher and staff a sense that I can have help right here in a matter of seconds,” he said.

That usage is what parents like Jessica Cartwright like want to hear.

“It’s very, very valuable,” Cartwright said. “All of the shootings we hear about nowadays, it’s the peace of mind that my kids are going to be safe when they go to school, they are well protected and have a lot of things in place to it’s just amazing.”

The district also expanded intruder-resistant glass applications, hired more officers, installed stronger surveillance cameras and key card access and would like to add more radios next school year.

Sperry put the emphasis on school safety into perspective.

“When people think about school safety, they go to the horrific and tragic events. School safety is so much more than that. It's loving each child as they are as they enter the building,” Sperry said. “Having this, though, does allow for a worst-case scenario for that comfort, that extra layer of the things I don’t have to think about as a principal.”