Ripley Central School Fire Alarm Installation Ahead Of Schedule

RIPLEY — The new fire alarm system being installed in Ripley Central School should be complete and operational nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, board of education members learned at their regular meeting on Thursday Oct. 18.

Ripley head mechanic Doug Norton told board members that the project was 80-85 percent completed. The project would should be ready by Nov. 10, he said. This is 12 days ahead of the projected Nov. 22 date of completion.

Norton said that testing of the new system would begin next week. Also, demolition on the old system has already begun.

Ripley Superintendent William Caldwell praised the workers who have been installing the system, noting how careful they were not to come into the main school area until students had been dismissed. “The crew has been top-notch in every way,” he said. “We are very pleased with the way the project has gone.”

The system is “state-of-the-art,’ Norton said. “It includes strobe alarms, speakers and pre-recorded instructions. Furthermore, at the main entrance, there will be a map of the school with LED lights on it. Should there be an actual alarm, fire fighters can immediately locate the trouble area rather than have to go through the entire building.”

Caldwell noted that the system also contains a push-button system to inform students and staff what is the cause of the alarm, such as a lock-down or fire drill, and to instruct them on what actions to take.

“It makes things a lot easier,” he said. “We settled on six buttons of pre-recorded messages.”

Caldwell said the district will soon conduct meetings to let familiarize everyone with the system and what to expect. “We’ll let the students and staff know what the system sounds like and how to respond,” he said.

Ripley Principal Micah Oldham also noted how impressed he is with the new system. “The level of protection and security so far alone is beyond what we had anticipated,” he said.

In other business, Caldwell reported on the results of the state assessment tests of ELA and math. He said he was pleased with the progress that Ripley students were making, especially the third grade, who ranked fifth in the county for ELA scores.

Caldwell also told board members that it was recommended to put the new transportation policy on the ballot for voters to approve. The policy sets a one-half mile radius from the school as the area in which students would not receive bus service.

Caldwell noted that the state recommendation on student walking to school allows for up to two miles for elementary students and three miles for high school students. “I feel that is too far,” he said.

In another matter, the district received an unmodified recommendation on its external audit report from the firm of Drescher and Malecki, LLP. This is the highest recommendation a school district can receive.

The audit report did contain a notation that the district’s fund balance of 6.9 percent was too high. Board president Paul McCutcheon noted that the district had been reducing the fund balance each year, but because voters rejected the 2018-19 budget, that figure remained the same as last year.

Oldham reported on several events and activities that had occurred in the district recently. He said he was particularly proud of the sixth-grade students who led the monthly crew celebration. Also, Oldham said he had begun the process of reviewing curriculum and assessment date with faculty members with the purpose of developing and intervention plan for students who are struggling.

Oldham noted that the October family fun night was a success with more than 100 people attending it. “It couldn’t have gone better,” he said. A family game night is scheduled for Nov. 16.

Also, Oldham said, the district will be rededicating the veterans memorial at 10 a.m. on Friday. State Sen. Catherine Young is expected to attend.

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