The Safety and Security at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School
More than 5 years ago, most entrances to Maroun Elementary were open and accessible to visitors throughout the day. In the morning, it was commonplace to see parents walking the hallways delivering birthday treats or the like to classrooms without authorization. In hopes of having a brief conference with the teacher before the start of the school day, parents would sometimes arrive early and wait in the classroom, even before the teacher arrived. Music Concerts were held during the instructional day which meant approximately 500 people would enter the building to attend. Daily dismissal time began at 3:05 and was very disruptive to instruction. Parents picking up students would enter from the back of the school and gather in the hallway area outside what used to be called “The Fish Office”. Each parent would sign their child’s name on a sign-out sheet and each child’s name would be read aloud on the PA afternoon announcements which alerted the teacher to make sure to send the student to meet the parent. Next, all 27 school buses were called as they arrived in the front bus circle using the PA system. Each day, buses were not in a predictable order. As an everyday occurrence students would miss their bus, and it was quite unusual NOT to call for a late bus to take the “missers” home. Parents served the school as volunteers; they were respected, and welcome.
With increased violence occurring in schools, we all know that today is a very different time period. Only the last sentence of the above paragraph remains the same today. People often ask, “Why were changes made to increase the safety and security of the school”? “Did something happen?” The faculty and staff at Maroun Elementary are always thankful that despite all the freedom and confusion in the past, nothing happened. What did happen, though, was that a Security Committee was formed and great community leaders served to provide valuable advice and feedback to us on how to become a safer school without sacrificing the warm, welcoming feeling we all desired to maintain as our unique school trademark.
As principal of Maroun Elementary, I am forever grateful for the contributions of the Phoenix Police Department, Fire Department, Business Owners, Parents, Board of Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation Department, and the Maroun Faculty and Staff toward increasing the safety of the school. The Security Committee continues to meet regularly to determine if any further changes need to be made.
Today, all the entrances to Maroun Elementary are closed and locked. Its single point of access is located in the front Main Office area. Visitors usually park in the large lot behind the bus circle and are in clear view as they approach the locked front door. An assigned staff member will open the door and take all the necessary precautions to authorize the visitor. Visitors should always be prepared to show identification and are required to wear a pass at all times which must be visible to everyone. Every effort is made not to interrupt required NYS instruction. Safety drills are routinely practiced by all faculty, staff and students. Additional safety monitors and security cameras have been installed all throughout the building. All musical concerts are now held in the evening. All students use the “Buddy System” and walk in pairs throughout the school.
Daily instruction begins at 9:05 a.m. and concludes at 3:15 p.m. At 3:20 p.m. each day, an announcement is made releasing all Walkers and those students being picked-up by an adult. All K-4 students not riding a bus can be picked-up in the Intermediate Cafeteria in the back of the school. It is recommended that parents arrive at 3:15 p.m. and park in the back parking lot facing EJD Middle School. Parents enter the Intermediate Cafeteria through the door marked “Parent Pick-Up”, sign-out the student(s) they are picking up, and remain in the cafeteria while waiting for the student(s) to arrive. To make the building much safer, parents send in a written note or use the Maroun Elementary triplicate forms, to notify the school that a student will be picked-up that day. With a student population of 737 young students, it is a tremendous help to us when parents provide information to us ahead of time so we can prepare. It is often difficult for us to honor and carry out unexpected requests. We like predictability!
All school buses arrive on time and in predictable order. There are two PM dismissals: 3:25 and 3:40. Students no longer miss their bus because students easily learn whether they are on 1st dismissal or 2nd dismissal.
As part of the approved Capital Project, increased safety measures will soon be made to the main entrance of Maroun Elementary so that its appearance, safety, and security measures will be similar to EJD and JCB entrances.
A safety feature unique to Maroun Elementary is that the school has a culture whereby everyone cares about and looks out for one another. The students are assigned to one teacher each year, yet students have many other adults and good role models who care about them and look out for them each day. The faculty and staff are quick to report anything suspicious and they inform administration of any potential problems.
Maroun Elementary is a treasure to the Phoenix community and a wonderful, positive, safe environment for young children to begin their academic career. Parents can trust that the faculty and staff of Maroun Elementary will always go above and beyond to maintain the safety of the students. No school can be perfect, however the door to the Principal’s office is always open and I’m ready to listen to any suggestions or concerns parents have about school safety.
Thank you for taking the time to read my words.
Principal Mary T. Stanton