Thursday, January 04, 2001

School safety part of face lift


Tech advances due at J.F. Burns

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        J.F. Burns Elementary soon will be a safer school, administrators say.

        Parts have been under construction since the summer when workers began remodeling the administrative offices and front entrance for better security; redoing the nurse's office; and adding a conference room, science lab, cafeteria/auditorium, teachers' cafeteria and new gymnasium floor.

[photo] Cheryl Montag, principal of J.F. Burns Elementary in the Kings School District, explains the security improvements in the lobby under renovation.
(Michael Snyder photos)
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        After upgrading the building's technology, it will rival capabilities of two elementaries being built in the district, said Kings Local Schools Superintendent David Query.

        Among the advances, made possible by a permanent improvement levy, are televisions and phones in every classroom and wireless laptops, Principal Cheryl Montag said.

        The remodeling effort cost nearly $2 million, Mr. Query said, and was part of a $23.5 million bond issue passed in May 1999 for construction of the two new schools and renovations at J.F. Burns.

        “The biggest reason for this construction was security,” Ms. Montag said. “We were not able to keep the building secure the way we were set up.”

        Before work began, the school's administration offices had no view of the front entrance, allowing people to walk into the building.

[photo] A cafeteria/auditorium will ease strain on the gymnasium now being used as a cafeteria.
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        “We didn't have any access to see who was coming and going,” Ms. Montag said.

        A crew of about 20 parent volunteers daily stationed themselves in shifts at the front doors to sign in visitors.

        Now, the front entrance — expected to be ready within the next two weeks — will consist of two doors, Ms. Montag said. Visitors will be buzzed through the first door by the secretary, then will have to sign in and be buzzed through a second door, she said. Administrators were moving into their new offices during the holiday break.

        A new cafeteria/auditorium, to be complete before next school year, will alleviate strain on a gymnasium now being used as a cafeteria. Because of tight space in the school, children eat in shifts from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Ms. Montag said. Older students who eat in the last shift can bring snacks to tide them over until lunch, she said.

        The new cafeteria

        means more children will be able to eat lunch at the same time, and gym teachers will not have to work their schedules around lunchtime, Ms. Montag said. A second gymnasium received a new floor.

        Students will also benefit from the new science lab for the school's kindergartners through fourth-graders, she said.

        “We've never had a science lab,” Ms. Montag said.

        Students previously moved science equipment from room to room and conducted experiments in their classrooms.

        The science lab has new lab tables, demonstration tables and cupboards to store science equipment.

        The school is also expected to have air conditioning installed by fall, which was part of a permanent improvement levy renewal, Mr. Query said.

       



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