Though students will again use the original entrance to Crawfordsville High School when they return this fall, they may be crossing the threshold of a new-and-improved entryway by the end of the school year.
Originally estimated to be complete by the summer of 2021, crews have been able to work ahead during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on a seemingly abandoned campus.
Crawfordsville Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rex Ryker has overseen district-wide renovation projects for the past five years. A $5 million project for pool, roof and masonry work was completed in early spring as a $10 million project to renovate classrooms, offices and commons areas, as well as provide a new entrance, began.
“We’re way ahead of schedule,” Ryker said. “Things that weren’t going to happen before summer began are already done.”
Parking lot and drive restoration, added parking spaces at the new entrance, athletic track resurfacing and other athletic plaza renovations were estimated to be complete between May and December, and are now reported as finished or underway.
And the new entrance, located just west of the original entryway, is now visible with metal framing, indicating a smaller overhang and shorter walking distance.
The new gateway is intended to solve a number of issues as administrators across the country vie to increase security measures.
“With our current entrance there’s no security; once you go in, you can go anywhere,” Ryker said. “But now during the school day people will have to come in this entrance and it’ll be secure with access control.”
Each elementary school in the district — Nicholson, Hose and Hoover — has seen a transformation in recent years as security efforts increase. Visitors are now “buzzed in” during school hours at the front door and pass through a secured area before they are allowed into the office to sign in.
North Montgomery and Southmont buildings also reflect the need for added security through recent projects, installing an area where visitors are screened before contact with another person is possible.
Some have employed the use of security kiosks which inquire a visitor’s intentions and destination, and print temporary badges which fade over time to indicate how long a visitor has had access.
As a response to security needs and the pandemic, new kiosks are set to feature instant background checks and thermal-imaging cameras to take one’s temperature.
And for Crawfordsville, the new entrance at CHS is the final piece of the puzzle.
“This is our last building for this,” Ryker said. “The idea is that you can come in here, but you’re basically a glass vegetable until you’re buzzed through the reception area.”
When the entrance is officially open, students will be able to enter and exit freely. However, the doors will be locked during the day.
“In the morning we’ll let students flow through,” Ryker said. “The office will have the reception area and (visitors) will have to be buzzed to get into the office or into the building itself.”
Ryker regularly updates the district’s board of trustees each month. Those interested in learning more can do so by attending the district’s monthly public meetings.
The next regularly-scheduled public meeting is set for 6 p.m. July 9 at Crawfordsville Middle School, 705 Wallace Ave. Meetings are subject to social distancing guidelines and possible relocation based on the number of attendants.