Safety, security and future classroom needs were the topics of discussion at Monday night’s USD 363 Board of Education meeting. Board members also heard feedback from students about Chromebooks.

A safety and security committee, made up of community members, school board members and parents, continues to assess the district’s needs and available resources for addressing those needs.

USD 363 Superintendent Jean Rush told board members Monday night that in discussing the district’s needs now, the committee has recognized a need to also discuss what those needs will be 20 years from now.

“We really have renamed this committee from safety and security to Project 34 and the reason was, the conversation has been, ‘What is Holcomb all about and where will we be 20 years down the road,’” Rush said.

The committee has been getting feedback from Kent Carmichael and Nick Nemechek of Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael & Nelson P.A. about both a master plan that addresses the need for future classroom space and other facility needs, and also the safety and security needs of the district.

Rush said that Chad Krug, principal of Holcomb Middle School and Deana Novack, principal of Wiley Elementary School, have told her that both elementary schools and the middle school are at the point that if any two of the grade levels ever exceed 100 students, there won’t be sufficient classroom space.

“And we have some that are in the 90s, but we’re just fortunate they’re not in one building,” Rush said. “So the master planning is huge. We have a plan of where we’re going to expand in each building when we’ll need additional classroom space.”

Potential projects centering around security and safety include the addition of safe rooms at Wiley Elementary School and the middle school, as well as entrances that re-route students and visitors through the offices of each school, locks to classroom doors making them secure from inside classrooms, exterior doors, and cameras.

She said HVAC systems, especially at the high school and Holcomb Elementary, are also something the district should keep an eye on.

“As Nemechek told us, those are very expensive and sometimes very difficult to know the extent of the project, because you don’t know what you’re getting into, Rush said. “If the boiler goes out at the high school, that’s expensive and that’s going to be massive. So we have those on this potential building project, and they’re working on some estimates.”

Rush anticipates estimates will be available around Christmas.

“And then we’ll bring the committee back together to look at that and see where they want to go with it after that,” she said.

Board members also heard feedback from students from Holcomb Middle School, via video, about Chromebooks, which are essentially small laptops, similar to iPads. The district approved the purchase of 250 Chromebooks in July.

Students preferred using Chromebooks over pencil and paper because it helped them be more organized and allowed them to do research via the Internet.

Students also said having their own Chromebooks saved time. They no longer had to wait for a school computer to become available.