FARNHAMVILLE - Prairie Valley Elementary has enhanced its security with new technology.
Visitors can only enter through one door, and must first push a button. That visitor then appears on small viewing stations in the main office.
"It shows whoever comes up," said Principal Jim Duncan. "All of our doors are always locked, in the entire building. If someone comes up during the day, they have to press that button. That button then allows them to be seen from the office, from more than one location."
The Aiphone system, installed by Per Mar Security Services of Fort Dodge, uses small devices that sit on the secretary's and principal's desks. Visitors appear on three-inch screens. The devices can also control the exterior camera.
"The office can visit with that person if they're not familiar with them or know who they are, and ask what they need," Duncan said. "If they're someone we don't know, or something like that, we can send someone out and investigate a little more. But we can continue to talk right from where we're at."
Lois Irwin, Prairie Valley Community School District superintendent, applauds the system.
"It is wonderful," Irwin said. "Parents and teachers, everyone feels good about it, because it has a level of security that was absent before."
Th system comes with other features, according to Duncan.
"It does have off-site recording. We can connect to law enforcement," he said. "Sheriff Bill Davis from Calhoun County has commented several times on how much he likes that system."
Duncan said the increased security is a way for the school to better protect its students.
"We don't have people just coming in where they have to walk past the office," he said. "They still have to walk past the office, but we can identify them before they come into the building."
The response to the new measures have been positive, Duncan said.
"It's been a great system for us. I've not heard one negative comment," he said. "People don't mind stopping or slowing down to enter our building. And all of the kids are trained on how to operate it, so if they arrive late to school they know what to do."
In addition to the new monitors, the school will also continue its regular security protocols.
"We have our normal supervision at our doors. And before school and after school, at times when we're expecting a lot of people. The nice thing is, we can keep every single door locked in the school," he said. "There's no foolproof system to anything, but it does increase our security and the safety of our building quite a bit."