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Paddling pups at play

Staff photo by Steve Kinderman

Above: Canines have their day Monday at Fairfax Park Pool as Eau Claire Parks and Recreation holds its annual Doggie Swim Fest. The popular event brings to an end the pool’s 2019 season. Proceeds of $10 per dog benefit Eau Claire’s off-leash dog parks and the Eau Claire Police Department K-9 program. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com.

Right: Sunday’s session allowed for dogs in the Fairfax Park Pool.

District could add secure entrance at Roosevelt in 2020

Some Eau Claire parents are urging the district to rework Roosevelt Elementary School’s entrance to make the school more secure, calling for upgrades that would send visitors through the school’s office before entering the student areas.

The Eau Claire school board will hear a report on the project at their meeting Monday, said schools Superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck.

While Roosevelt’s doors are locked and visitors must provide identification to secretaries before being buzzed in to the building, the school lacks something that the other district schools have: Roosevelt doesn’t have a breezeway, or hallway, that requires visitors to pass the school office before reaching classroom and student areas, Hardebeck said.

“I think it’s an urgent need,” said Kelly Hendrickson, whose children attend Roosevelt. “We should have that level of security that all the other schools are having.”

Roosevelt parent Gina Caldwell urged the school board at an Aug. 19 meeting to upgrade the school’s entrance this year.

“Having a safe and secure entrance to an Eau Claire school should not be determined on what school you attend. It should be a right for every student in our district,” Caldwell said.

Emma Holmen, a student entering fifth grade at Roosevelt, also asked the board at a July 22 meeting to consider the addition.

“Kids should feel comfortable at school, not worrying about some break-in and how easy it would be to sneak past the office … the one thing (all schools) should all have is top-notch safety and security,” Holmen said at the meeting.

Eau Claire school board members have requested the project be completed as soon as possible, said board President Eric Torres: “All of us recognize that there’s a need, that we’re going to address it.

“The problem is the timing,” Torres said in a phone interview with the Leader-Telegram. “The final decision about what was going to happen with Roosevelt’s building was made late in the year.”

The 2019-2020 school year was set to begin when the board decided to keep Roosevelt open as a two-section school, so any construction on the building may be done in the summer of 2020, Torres said.

The project’s cost will likely be included in the budget for the 2020-2021 school year, Torres said.

“We’re very aware of how important that is, and we’re making every effort to provide it,” Torres said.

According to the district’s five-year proposed capital project forecast, adding a secure entrance at Roosevelt would cost $180,000.

The district this year hasn’t set a cost for the project, Hardebeck said, since the price will depend on the size of the renovation to Roosevelt’s entrance.

“I don’t anticipate it being something we can’t afford,” Torres said.

If the district plans the project for the summer of 2020, Hendrickson suggested the board consider adding more security measures until the school gets a renovated entrance.

“I’m wondering if they could add a school resource officer or another level of security for us until we get that,” Hendrickson said.

The district has school resource officers at Memorial and North high schools and South, Northstar and DeLong middle schools, according to the Eau Claire Police Department’s annual 2018 report.

Hardebeck said students, teachers and staff at all schools should alert administration if they notice possible threats.

“At the end of the day, one of the most important aspects of security is if students see something out of the ordinary, we encourage them to report it immediately to the principal or front office,” Hardebeck said.