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Proposed Norwood-Norfolk capital project will add communication component

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NORFOLK — Norwood-Norfolk Central School Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie says a proposed capital project will allow the district to provide increased communication to family members in the event of an emergency.

The district recently has had three bomb threats, and Mrs. Kirnie said an enhanced communication system that is planned as part of the proposed project would allow family members to receive instant phone and text information about safety concerns, from lockdown drills to weather closings.

“The thrust of the project is safety and security as well as energy savings,” she said. “The safety and security measures are the first phase of the project. They’re all at the top of the list.”

The district received a bomb threat last week, its third in less than a month. Bomb threats were discovered written on the walls the evening of May 17 and again May 22.

In both cases, nothing was found after a thorough search of the building, although the second threat resulted in a lockdown of the middle and high school.

Mrs. Kirnie said that following last week’s incident, some parents and staff members had shared their concerns that the incident did not a trigger a districtwide lockdown and that the elementary school was allowed to continue with its regular schedule.

“In every case, we called on the presence and experience of our New York state troopers. This was a decision made by the administrative team in consultation with law enforcement and based on all available evidence,” she said.

Mrs. Kirnie said that with the proposed capital project, district officials will be able to communicate with family members immediately after an incident is resolved, regardless of the level of the threat.

At this point, the proposed project is still in the planning stages, Mrs. Kirnie said.

“We have sent out a request for proposals. Several architect and engineering firms have responded. This week we’ll be narrowing the field to finalists,” she said.

Mrs. Kirnie said the district should have a contract with an architectural and engineering firm in July “and we’ll get started on the process. We’ve determined the scope of the project as sort of a baseline. As the planning progresses, obviously that will be modified a bit,” she said.

The project, however, will allow the district to address instant communication with families.

“It could go as a voice message as well as a text. School districts do have (the capability to send out communications). With the project we will be quickly exploring what the options are. We want to be as efficient in the use of our resources as possible. Communication is primary,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

The communication system will be used for a number of purposes, she said.

“Even if it’s just a drill, students and teachers are not always aware that it is a drill. It would be nice to notify everyone immediately,” she said.

The district also could use the system to let parents know that school would be closing early for the day.

“Due to the weather or any unforeseen circumstances, if we had to close school early it’s a way of notifying them. Depending on the system, there could be a pre-existing message,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

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