New Derby elementary school to include top safety and education features


DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) – Stone Creek Elementary School is in the beginning phases of construction, and when the school opens in August of 2020, students, educators and staff will experience top safety and education features. It will also include things the community can enjoy, too. 

The renderings of the school show hallways with niches for hiding in the case of an active shooter or other emergency, safe “dream” rooms in every classroom and door-locking mechanisms.

“Our teachers want to teach and that’s their main priority, but we have to do it in a safe environment,” said Sandy Rusher, principal of Stone Creek Elementary. 

The safe rooms would allow two classrooms next to each other to fit inside in the case of a lockdown.

“If there was someone in our main hallways, they wouldn’t be able to see any of our students,” said Liston.

Some of the safety features will double as additional learning spaces and unique designs. 

Rusher said said safety is one of her top priorities for the school. She said teachers and staff will be trained in many areas. 

“Just our staff in general will have upwards of 14 to 16 drills,” said Rusher. “Those of course include fire drills and whatnot, but we will do lockdown, shelter in place, lock out drills all the time.”

A group of community members from all careers and walks of life were the ones who helped come up with the design concept for the school. 

Matt Liston, Derby Police supervisor of school resource officers, was one of those design team members. He was able to bring years of experience in law enforcement and school resource to the table. Liston is also on the board for the National Association of School Resource Officers and has traveled the country to train and see the different safety aspects new schools are including. 

“Way ahead of the curve,” said Liston. “We see a lot of schools going in this direction.”

Liston said while newer schools are adding security features, there are others who have chosen not to.

“Some schools still have their head in the sand and think it can’t happen here,” said Liston. “Derby has never been that way.”

Liston said some of the features are subtle and may not be noticed right away. 

“I think we’ve done a very good job of making it welcome, but making it safe,” said Liston. “You don’t notice things right away, but they’re there and that’s a good thing.”

Aside from security, the building will have an emergency shelter for school and city use, an outdoor learning center where students can eat lunch outside and it can also be used for outdoor classroom space. A community room is also inside the school and will be open for public teaching sessions and other events for everyone in the community. 

With everything Stone Creek has to offer, school officials said it will be ahead of the game. 

“When parents drop their kids off at school, they expect for us to keep them safe while they’re in our care,” said Liston. “That’s a huge responsibility.”

Stone Creek Elementary School will open for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

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