School Board Gives Blue Point the Green Light

Parents line up outside Sage Valley Jr. High School, waiting to pick up their children after a 14-year-old male was arrested for making threats against a student and staff member on Nov. 13 (Photo Credit: Adam Ritterbush)

Parents line up to pick up their children at Sage Valley Junior High, Nov. 13, 2018, after a student brings multiple guns into the school. (Photo courtesy of Adam Ritterbush)

Collins Communications has been awarded the bid to install the new crisis alert system at four secondary schools in the Campbell County School District. The bid from Collins was more than $125,000 less than the bid from APi System Integrators, whose closest office is in Casper.

The Blue Point Alert Solutions system will be installed at Campbell County and Thunder Basin high schools and also at Sage Valley and Twin Spruce junior highs with a total price tag of $180,858.93, which includes set up and annual license fees. The majority of the funds for the project, $166,000, will come from a Title IV federal grant. The balance of the funding will come from the district’s general fund.

Eisenhauer said the installation will be done in a way that does not interfere with student learning. It’s expected that all four schools will be up and running with the new alert system by the fall of 2019.

Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirby Eisenhauer told the board the crisis committee has been discussing ways to improve school safety response times for the last five months. And the Blue Point system will do just that.

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“Typically, when we would go into one of our crisis procedures or lock down, that typically would come through the administrator,” Eisenhauer told the board. Blue Point makes it possible for any staff or student to put the building in lockdown, should they see something that concerns them.

Once installed, there will be blue pull stations, similar to fire alarms, in various locations throughout the schools. The system also is equipped with individual activation buttons that can be worn by staff members.

Eisenhauer explained to the board that once a school is locked down, a person who’s intending to do harm will have less opportunities to do so. Simply locking down a school can probably save lives.

The Blue Point system will also be integrated with the video surveillance systems already in place, providing a live view of the situation. By pinpointing the location of the threat, law enforcement can be deployed more efficiently.

Board Chair Anne Ochs also asked Eisenhauer to update the board on where the district was at on the possibility of allowing concealed carry of firearms in schools. Legislation approved during the last session opened the door for this discussion.

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“It would be an extensive process to gain info from the community, not just certain individuals,” Eisenhauer said.

Last summer, seven school district employees participated in firearms training with the Gillette Police Department to learn what kind of skills would be needed. Eisenhauer said he plans to give the school board an update on the specific issue of concealed carry in schools in January.

“This isn’t really something we normally talk about,” he said of the crisis response plan. “We don’t want to alarm people. But, we do try to do our best to be prepared should we have to respond to a bad situation.”