Lander County School District has applied for and been awarded two large grants, one for $80,000 and the other for over $450,000. 

Superintendent Russell Klein said the $80,000 grant from POOL/PACT will be spent on three items he applied for totaling $110,000 that will result in a reduction of liability. 

The Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (POOL) was formed in 1987. By pooling resources, Nevada public entities discovered they could obtain property casualty coverage at a reasonable cost and access risk management resources superior to those previously offered to rural municipalities. The Public Agency Compensation Trust was formed in 1996 to provide workers compensation coverage. POOL/PACT is a consortium of many different government entities whose members include counties, cities, school districts, special districts and towns. Every member actively manages the risk encountered as a public agency.

Klein explained the first item is for ADA handicap access inside the high school where there are several multi-level areas with multiple steps. There is currently no handicap access for people to get from the front door or main floor. 

“For instance, they’d have to go out the side door, all the way around the front of the building, around the side of the building and into the back of the building just to get to the art room, because there are five steps there,” said Klein. “We got a bid and they have approved to pay for handicap access ramps where you just push a button and a ramp flips down from the wall, and we’re getting three of those; one at the front door, one at the art room and one in the gymnasium, so that people can come to the sports games and activities, and they can have access and come in the door with everyone else.” 

The second item is for a $35,000 upgrade to a cloud-based backup server. Klein realized the risk they were running by not having an off-site backup, as currently the district server has a full backup server that everything is duplicated to, but it sits right next to the main server. 

“If we were to have lightning or flood, or anything were to happen to this building, we would lose everything. Our main and our backup, and we would have nothing,” stated Klein. “No matter what happens now, we will have an off-site backup, and literally every transaction will be duplicated within a second. Medical records, special education, enrollment, graduation, diplomas; all records.”

The third item will be for an upgrade to the video servers. “We do have video in our classrooms, but they were installed years ago and sometimes the videos skip. We have multiple video servers supporting all the cameras, but the bandwidth to stream video is so big that we need to upgrade those servers so we can get a smoother reading from the video cameras,” explained Klein.

Klein said he also had an opportunity to upgrade anything safety-related within the school district; however, he only had a two-week timeframe to submit for that money, so it was a super-fast turnaround. 

“We had a consultant come in, and we got $450,000,” said Klein of the second large grant they were awarded. “So, $150,000 of that is going to be spent on two years of a social worker. We’ve done a big push on mental health, and the money the district was going to be paying – out of our own pocket – literally $150,000 of general funds will now be saved because we can use the grant money to pay for the social worker we already committed to.”

The remaining $300,000 will be spent on infrastructure upgrades to the district to improve safety and security to the school buildings, stated Klein.

One, for example, will be for an identity program. 

“When anybody comes into the building, they will simply scan their driver’s license and it will deliver an almost instant background check and issue a visitor’s pass,” explained Klein. “We’ll have instant notice if we have anything of concern. Another thing we’ll have is a portal. If you can imagine the portal we have at the high school, where you step in between the two doors and you wait for entrance; we have the same thing at the junior high. We do not have a portal at the elementary school; you just go straight in.” 

Klein said they will build a glass portal at the elementary school where people can step in, out of the weather, and then they can see who it is before they buzz them in, and they will turn it into a secure entrance. 

Klein added they will spend $180,000 of the grant money on secure doors and locks at the junior high school and elementary school. 

“Research has shown that if you have an incident at a school and the teacher needs to lock their classroom door, you do not want to have them have to find the key — fumble for the key, try to find the lock, the stress is super high — you need a door lock where the teacher can push a button and close the door, and it is locked,” said Klein. “We did this at the high school a year ago and upgraded all the locks to have a quick, one-action, push a button and close the door.”

Klein said they will also buy software consisting of an online application that administrators and teachers can have on their phones, and in case of an emergency, alerts and notifications can be given out immediately or broadcast out to parents. “With a touch of a button on their phone, any information can be given, and our phones become walkie-talkies, if you will,” said Klein.

“If you watch the news, the first thing said is, ‘We never thought it would happen in this community.’ God forbid it ever should, but we want to make sure that if it were, then we have taken steps to be prepared. With all the things we’ve done – securing the high school with those gates and fences and door locks – it really puts us in the forefront within the state of Nevada,” said Klein. “We’ve done very well addressing school safety. It was a really big win — almost half a million dollars. It gives us the capability to take things up another level from what we have already done. We are trying to do everything we can. We are trying to look ahead.”