ST. CHARLES – St. Charles School District 303 soon will shine a spotlight on community mental health as it relates to school security.
With the nationwide debate about school safety and the focus on mental health, Superintendent Don Schlomann said, “We felt strongly – at least I did – to open up discussion in the community about mental health.”
The school district will reconvene Summit 303 to address the topic. Four sessions are scheduled through May, with the first set for 7 to 9 p.m. March 20 at the St. Charles East High School Little Theatre.
All community members are invited to participate.
The St. Charles Education Association, city of St. Charles, St. Charles Police Department, St. Charles Public Library, several faith-based community organizations and local mental health and wellness organizations are supporting District 303 in this effort.
Summit 303 co-chair Jim DiCiaula, who also is board president for Tri-City Family Services, said he is excited about the event’s diverse support.
“I really think the focus of addressing mental health in the community is something we need to come together as a community to work on,” he said. “There’s no one easy solution.”
The speaker for March 20 will be Kim Svevo-Cianci, co-founder, president and executive director of Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation. According to District 303, she is expected to give an overview of how mental health is a component of a community’s security and how mental health support is a responsibility of families, schools and the community.
The school district also is implementing about $353,700 in security procedures to address the physical part of keeping its schools safe. The Business Services Committee reviewed the proposal last week, and Schlomann said the item is moving to the full school board.
One of the recommendations – a panic button similar to those used in banks – came from a teacher, he said.
Other proposed security measures are additional security cameras; intruder function locks, which would allow classroom doors to be locked from the inside; and voice over internet protocol/intercom integration, which would enable authorized individuals to initiate an “all call” intercom from any telephonic instrument for emergency purposes.
Pending board approval, the improvements should be in place by the end of the summer, Schlomann said.