COUCH -- Classes started at Couch School Aug. 15 and there are several new, noticeable safety measures that have taken place at the school.
Superintendent Rolla Fraley said he has been in contact with officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation the past three or four years trying to get the speed limit reduced on Highway 142 near the school. "Just this past week MoDOT put up the new speed limit signs. The signs are about 1/2 mile east and west of the school and also at the junction of E Highway," the superintendent said. The speed limit near the school has been reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph.
Other improvements at the school are the student drop-off and loading areas as well as the bus pickup and drop-off areas. School officials have added a student drop-off lane with bus loading and unloading in a separate location. Frealey said now there should be no contact between vehicles, student drivers and students at the school, making playgrounds and other areas safer.
A new security system has been installed at the school. "In the past just the library complex and the preschool had a security system. Now the entire school will be hooked up to the system," Fraley said.
He said the new system has two features (1) When an intruder enters one of the school buildings the system will set off an alarm to central dispatch to alert the sheriff's office; (2) the system includes panic buttons all over the school. Administration and staff at the school will know where the buttons are located, and if something is not right at the school, central dispatch and the sheriff's office will be notified.
"Oregon County Road 261 near the school has been a major concern to us at Couch School for quite some time. The state has agreed to cost share with us the expense of doing some upgrading on the road and we are hoping the county commission can help us with the cost," Fraley said. He said he hopes to get a 45 mph speed zone there also.
Besides safety projects, new lighting has been installed throughout the school. The superintendent said the lighting work was installed by Excell Lighting from Little Rock and has enhanced the lighting, especially in the elementary hallways and both gyms.