Campus safety and 2024 centennial hot-button issues at D202 board meeting


Daily file photo by Sneha Dey

District 202 board members spoke about potential security renovations and the building’s 2024 centennial renovation at a Monday meeting.

Avani Kalra and Elena Hubert

Content warning: this story contains mentions of guns.

At the last District 202 Board meeting of the school year on Monday, members discussed safety improvements at Evanston Township High School after police found two guns on campus in December. 

Associate Principal for Educational Services Keith Robinson and Director of Safety Matthew Driscoll outlined results from a physical security assessment of ETHS by facility management firm Facility Engineering Associates. 

The assessment identified strengths and weaknesses of the school’s security system according to four distinct parameters: deterrence, detection, delay and response to unauthorized actions. 

“​​These are items that we are recommending to strengthen us,” Robinson said. “It was really good to see in the report that we do so many things well … It gives us hope to know that we’re doing some good things and gives us a goal to be better.”

Driscoll and Robinson presented a number of recommendations, advocating for additional weapons-prevention signs and alarm signs, shorter hedges to increase visibility and exterior doors marked with numbers to allow secondary responders to specify outside locations.

Facility Engineering Associates recommended that doors to the school remain closed to prevent weather impairments and safety transgressions. 

To further secure the school building, board members discussed implementing a card identification system where students swipe in and out of the building, as well as a cellphone registration system so students can be alerted in an emergency. 

Facility Engineering Associates also recommended ETHS continuously audit and improve its alarm, loudspeaker, surveillance and door hardware systems. They asked staff to consider utilizing handheld metal detectors. 

However, some board members were opposed to metal detectors. Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell said metal detectors can be easily bypassed, and it’s also necessary to consider what they suggest about the character of the school. 

“Metal detectors do not serve as a preventative measure against school violence,” Campbell said. “ETHS cannot give the impression (metal detectors are) a solution to a problem that would still exist, but we can take steps to make sure that ETHS is a safer school and a just and equitable learning environment for all students.” 

Campbell said he heard about school safety from former law enforcement officers and researchers at the American Education Research Association annual meeting. 

A school community built on values of trust is what minimizes school violence, Campbell said. 

“ETHS (should be) a place where students are seen and feel seen by adults and their peers,” Campbell said. “Safety comes when students feel loved and valued. We would continue to make our thinking visible to our school community because this is an ongoing effort and commitment.” 

Board members also spoke about other ways ETHS can build community –– including the school building’s centennial celebration. 

The ETHS community will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the current building’s opening in September 2024, and preliminary planning for its centennial celebration is already underway. 

ETHS Alumni Association executive director David Futransky said the new building, built in 1924, was a solution to overcrowding at ETHS’s former location on Elmwood Avenue and Dempster Street.

Futransky said the centennial campaign’s goals are to celebrate the school’s history, narrate alumni’s stories and sustain future growth. There will be a focus on expanding the demographics of recognized alumni in spaces such as a planned alumni hall, Futransky said. 

“If we look at the distinguished alumni wall, it is dominated by men or is dominated by whites,” Futransky said. “There are plenty of other people — people of color, women — who went to ETHS over the years. We need to tell their stories.”

The ETHS Alumni Foundation will provide the preliminary funding for a centennial capital improvement campaign. Its main focus will be renovating the south end of the building, which houses the arts wing. 

With the board grappling with ways to improve the school overall, Futransky emphasized a forward-thinking approach to the centennial campaign.

“Having a centennial to celebrate lets us think about supporting the 21st century Wildkits,” Futransky said.

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Twitter: @elenahubert25

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @avanidkalra 

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