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No serious safety concerns found in schools
MONROE - There are no serious safety concerns with schools across the Monroe School District based on a tactical study unveiled at a board meeting Monday, Jan. 13.

The district has a tactical study completed every three years to determine any safety concerns in schools across the district.

"For the most part there are a lot of minor safety, liability and workers' comp concerns," Monroe School District Business Manager Ron Olson said. "There is nothing earth shattering as far as large safety concerns."

Olson said the clock tower at Monroe Middle School is declining.

"It's a long-range concern with the condition and viability of the clock tower," Olson said. "It has been working since we had it re-geared."

District leaders went through the tunnels at the middle school and there is insulation and ceiling hanging down near overhead storage near the old boiler room.

"It's not a fire hazard yet," Olson said. "It has collapsed down to the storage area, but it's not on the ground."

Both Parkside Elementary School and Abraham Lincoln Elementary schools have issues with sheets of ice on the roof and cracked and crumbling concrete on sidewalks. Some classrooms have issue with too much storage overhead creating a safety concern.

"Parkside has a history of issues with sloped metal roofs with snow and sheets of ice," he said.

Olson said the retractable mobile wall in the gym at Abe Lincoln is old, worn and will probably have to be replaced within the next two years.

Olson said Northside Elementary School has a roof and downspout areas to entrances and exits where water freezes and it can lead to concrete cracking.

He said part of the issue with the crumbling concrete is the running water and the continued use of ice melt.

The district plans to get rid of the old railroad tie near Northside and replace it with concrete landscape wall.

The district wants the high school shop department to remove any old cars that are not being worked on. Another safety concern is the wrestling mats stored in the wrestling room in the high school gym.

Olson said the district is looking to provide some reinforcement to the mats since they are stored high in the wrestling room so they don't fall on someone.

There were some areas of the new chemistry rooms at MHS marked for cleanup. It was recommended that major science experiments should be conducted under the fume hood so the circulation of air could be managed the best.

Olson said if projects were needed to be done outside the fume hood, they may have to reconfigure some of the ventilation for the chemistry room.

The district's custodial department reviews building safety concerns every year and every three years they complete a tactical study. In three more years, the district will complete another study with the Monroe Police Department and Monroe Fire Department.

Board member Mary Berger said the district should consider implementing some safety standards for storage areas.

"I think we should have some safety standards so we could hold people accountable," Berger said.

Monroe School Board President Bob Erb questioned if the district should take on an even larger role when it comes to safety.

"It begs the question if we could do a better job of communicating safety concerns to all staff."

During the last safety study, many classrooms had dangling chords and Olson said that was a problem that was corrected.

"We are probably better off than most other places because we do this," Olson said of the district completing a tactical study and then having the police and fire departments do walk-throughs.

The district's maintenance staff has already started making changes in several schools. Parkside now locks the kitchen where Rainbow Childcare also uses because it has a refrigerator and to protect the students from knives.

"Tom Rufenacht and the custodial staff have done a great job of already addressing some of these issues," Monroe School District Superintendent Cory Hirsbrunner said.