Most stakeholders feel safe in Derby Public Schools, say the results from a district survey.
The safety and security survey was administered online in April to fourth and fifth grade students, middle and high schoolers, staff, parents and community members. It was first performed in 2018.
Andy Koenigs, assistant superintendent of human resources, shared the survey results at the July 22 board of education meeting.
“We use this information to help guide our district safety and security priorities and see where we might have areas to improve,” Koenigs said in an email to the Informer. “Overall, we were very pleased with results this year.”
In total, the district received responses from 669 fourth and fifth graders, 1,054 secondary students, 492 staffers, 191 parents, and 14 community members. The number of secondary-student respondents doubled since last year.
In the first part of the survey, respondents were asked to react to a series of statements related to safety at school, with responses ranked on a four-point scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
Some statements also had a “don’t know” option.
Koenigs said the district’s goal is to have over 80 percent of respondents select the “agree” responses on each question. That was the case for nearly all survey questions.
When nearly 20 percent of respondents in a certain group select a “disagree” response, he said that signals a potential area of growth.
Survey statements included, “I feel there is someone at school I can talk to,” “I know what to do if there is an emergency in class,” and “safety drills are important.”
Seventeen percent of secondary-student respondents said they did not feel there was someone at school to which they could talk. Some board members thought this number was concerning.
“I understand some of that is the age of the kids and they think they know everything. But I do want to concentrate on why they feel like they can’t talk to somebody,” said Board President Tina Prunier. “Is it because they’re constantly moving classrooms and don’t feel that connection with the teachers? And how do we address that?”
Koenigs, having worked in high schools before, suggested some secondary students may be afraid of being labeled a “snitch.”
“We obviously want those good relationships with students, … and we have in the past been able to get good tips from our secondary students,” he said.
One question asked only student respondents if they knew what to do in case of various emergencies, including a fire, tornado, lockdown and earthquake.
Over 90 percent of students said they knew what to do in case of each emergency, except for earthquakes, which was at 87 percent.
That apparent readiness can be credited in part to the fact that district schools each performed 16 drills last year. Respondents overwhelmingly said they felt safety drills were important.
In the final piece of the survey, respondents were asked to fill in their own suggestions of how the district could improve safety in schools. The vast majority said they already felt safe at school or that they didn’t know what improvements to suggest.
Otherwise, some of the most common suggestions were intruder locks, “address the drug problem,” and more visible SRO or security presence.
“I think that shows the excellent relationship our SROs have with students and parents,” Koenigs said. “They feel safe when they’re around.”
Twenty-one of the 31 expulsions last year in Derby Public Schools were drug-related.
Respondents suggested some top priorities for next school year, which included background checks for visitors and volunteers, emphasis on drug and alcohol prevention, and better drop-off and pickup procedures.
The school district already performs background checks on visitors and volunteers through a program called SafeVisitor Solutions.
Full survey results from 2018 and 2019 are below.
If plans fall into place as proposed, Derby will have a new youth-oriented multi-sport athletic training complex in its STAR bonds district.
At the July 23 City Council meeting, Derby Destination Development, the entity heading up building in the district, announced plans for the Derby Sports Camp, which will be undertaken by Wichita businessman Rodney Steven.
“We’re very excited about it,” Steven said after the meeting.
The facility would be “a combination of ideas” and unique to the region.
Steven already operates a variety of youth activities camps in the region. They would include a number of different activities, such as gymnastics, cheerleading and endeavors not covered by other camps, which often focus on basketball and volleyball.
The age focus would be 5 to 16 years, he said. Officials say there would be dorm facilities on site for the youth.
City Manager Kathy Sexton said the new development is good news for the city.
Many of the adults Steven has as customers want camps for their children, she said. However, the final concept is not yet firm.
“He needs some more time to work out the details of his proposal,” Sexton said.
The complex could operate at a variety of times, and not just in mid-summer, Sexton said.
“When you have customers in five different states, they don’t have the same schedule for their school calendars,” she said.
Steven has a wide variety of ownership interests, including the Genesis Health Clubs system.
If he wants to, Sexton said Steven is welcome to open a Genesis facility in Derby.
But he “will not receive a tax break or other financial incentive from the city or from STAR bonds for such a facility,” she said.
As planned, Derby Sports Camp would be on Rock Road between the car wash and water tower, just east of Field Station: Dinosaurs and Rock Regional Hospital.
The concept is still a work in progress and has to go through a number of steps before it can become a reality. Officials say it could include dorms for youth to stay overnight during weeklong camp sessions.
A sports camp is another step in the evolution of the district.
Last October, the council approved an amendment to the development agreement for the STAR bond project to locate a multi-sport attraction called the Sport Zone where Steven’s camp would go.
The Sport Zone would have indoor and outdoor sand and hard courts with a games area and restaurant.
However, at its original site, it was discovered that the land deed restricted the use of alcohol on it, so it wouldn’t work as alcohol would be served at the restaurant.
The restrictive covenant is not an issue with Steven’s proposal as alcohol would not be involved.
Derby Destination located another lot for Sport Zone and proposes it be added to the STAR bond district. The lot, at 6628 S. Rock Road, is south of the Don Hattan car dealership.
While it was just outside the city limits, the owners requested annexation, which the council approved in a different agenda item.
And in yet another development, the council reviewed details about expanding the STAR bond district by about 75 acres to include more than just this lot.
That will help in access and could offer future benefit for the owners of undeveloped land with new infrastructure improvements.
Sexton also said that retail growth in a larger area would “accelerate the repayment of STAR bonds.”
The district now is about 300 acres.
The council approved a resolution considering the expansion and set a hearing for Aug. 27. The public is welcome to comment on the issue.