Locally made product helps keep kids safe at school
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It's almost time for another school year, and without a doubt safety will once again be top of mind.
A local business is teaming up with some schools in the Heartland, and even across the nation to give everyone a little more peace of mind.
It's called, KIDaccount. It's exactly as the name implies, they account for kids.
The idea seems simple, but for some local school leaders, it's been a real game changer especially at the end of a busy day.
"We felt it was controlled chaos at dismissal time, but it wasn't like we knew where every child was going," said Amy Emmenderfer, Principal of Clippard Elementary.
That's just one concern school administrators face daily.
But, thanks to a fairly new product, made right here in the Heartland, some school leaders said they now have an extra layer of protection.
"Something kind of struck me, it was that little voice in the back of my head that said you need to listen to this," said Dr. Sam Duncan, Superintendent of New Madrid County Schools.
When Keith Petty of KIDaccount approached Dr. Sam Duncan at New Madrid County Schools, times were tough financially for the district.
They didn't have a lot of extra money to spend.
But, this company had something Superintendent Duncan said his district couldn't pass up.
"I can tell you it's worth every penny, and it's not something that will break the bank of any school district," said Dr. Duncan.
A couple of years ago, Keith Petty and his partners came up with KIDaccount.
"We wanted to develop a system to eliminate that chaos and give tools to staff when the time was needed," said Keith Petty-President and CEO of KIDaccount.
They developed it from scratch in Farmington, and it's now catching the eyes of local school districts and beyond.
"We are basically coast to coast," said Petty. "We're in Southern California and into Virginia and Pennsylvania."
The product has several layers, but perhaps the most noticeable change would be in the car line after school.
Clippard Elementary in Cape Girardeau gave it a try about a year and a half ago.
Parents are given a couple of cards that look like credit cards. Those cards have their child's name on them.
When the parent arrives in the car rider pick up line after school they hand that card to school personnel who then scan that card on a device, like an iPad.
A list of approved names will pop up on that device, and that person picking up the child may need to show identification to prove they are who they say they are.
Meanwhile, the kids are safe inside.
"When we scan the cards in, the name of the child pops up in the gym where they are sitting," said Emmenderfer. "We have teachers in there that call the kids names and they line up in that order."
The children are then escorted outside and sent home with the authorized parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or other approved person.
On that electronic device could also be the names of people who are not authorized to pick up a child.
"If that person is here then I have a button I can push and call the office and say I need a resource officer," said Emmenderfer.
That officer would then handle the situation, and the child would be safe inside without knowing what was happening outside.
East Elementary in Jackson tried out the program for the first time during summer school.
"We're just thrilled to add an extra layer of security for our parents and students," said Jessica Maxwell, Principal-East Elementary School.
She said it took some getting used to, but parents quickly grasped the concept.
Also, if a child is a bus rider, the driver now has a daily updated list of everyone who is supposed to be on the bus that day.
"So if something ever goes wrong or there is an emergency and a child were to be missing, we could identify what time and where they were picked up," said Jessica Maxwell.
Superintendent Duncan in New Madrid County did have an emergency situation recently that happened in a community near one of his schools.
Using this new technology, he says he was able to quickly account for everyone.
"Within five minutes, I had a message from our school resource officer that the school was safe and every child was accounted for," said Dr. Sam Duncan. "I knew every single child was accounted for, from the child who was in preschool all the way through that building to the biggest 5th grader was accounted for, and that's priceless."
With this software, schools can also now better track the visitors who come inside.
"When they come in, their picture is taken and they have a badge they wear," said Keith Petty.
No more sign in and sign out pages for the secretary to keep track of.
Also, the secretary at the school would no longer be consumed with sticky notes about how a child is getting home from school.
Everything is electronic, eliminating the paper piles and confusion at the end of the day.
The teacher in the classroom would just pull up a page to see if there are any changes right at the last minute of class time and tell the students about any changes in how they are getting home.
"So, we have increased instruction time because we're not taking the last 15 to 20 minutes out of the day," said Amy Emmenderfer. "We can teach all the way up to 3 o'clock now."
"It just gives me the confidence that if a parent would question, do we value safety, or are our students really going where they should be, we can honestly and sincerely say they really are," said Jessica Maxwell.
The Poplar Bluff Schools also started using KIDaccount last year.
Dr. Brad Owings at Poplar Bluff Middle School said it has benefited his school in several ways.
"Previously, we had our car riders go outside and sit on the pavement while staff used bullhorns to call out names and get students to the correct cars," said Dr. Owings. "So the first and most obvious benefit of KidAccount, is that we are able to have all of our students sit inside to wait on their car. That has increased comfort for our students, but more importantly, it has increased safety as well."
Keith Petty with KIDaccount said his company is continuing to develop the product and add new features to give districts even more safety tools in the future.
"Our building presented some challenges for them, but they tailored the product to what we needed and made it work," said Dr. Owings.
As of now, only the elementary schools in Jackson are using the dismissal feature.
Clippard Elementary in Cape Girardeau is currently the only school in the city to use the dismissal feature.
For more information about KIDaccount, click here.
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