North Scott schools to add vape detectors in bathrooms

Halo sensors detect disturbances and summon help


New Halo security cameras in high school and junior high bathrooms will detect vaping, loud noises, and cries for help, then alert school staff and in some cases, call 911.

School board members meeting Monday approved moving $500,000 in unspent funds from other accounts for school safety, technology and building improvements by the end of this fiscal year.

That includes about $36,000 for the security camera system in restrooms and hallways. High school principal Shane Knoche said testing over winter break left him and administrators convinced they should be installed soon, over spring break.

Retired high school liaison officer Bruce Schwarz researched the HALO system, superintendent Joe Stutting told board members.

“We’d be one of the first to implement it,” Stutting said.

He said tests showed it can detect vape clouds or any smoke, aggressive noises, and even calls for help. It also detects and reports tampering.

“You can make it so a voice responds,” Knoche said.

That voice could affirm that 911 has been called, or warn students who try to damage the detector.

“When we tried, ‘Help,’ it said… ‘911 has been notified. Help is being sent,’” Stutting said.

The system sends text and email alerts to selected staff, which can review digital video and identify students or staff who had been in bathrooms at the time of the alarm.

District finance director Jill Von Roekel said the $500,000 is left over from four accounts, and required board approval to be spent on security.

Stutting said much of the surplus is due to the pandemic, which reduced preschool, professional development and other costs. Specifically:

Home school assistance: $50,000

Teacher leadership supplement: $100,000

Statewide voluntary preschool: $225,000

Professional development reserves: $125,000

Board members authorized the uses after a public hearing that drew no comments.

Concurrent enrollment

More than 95 percent of North Scott students graduate with community college credits, leading the region and well ahead of the governor’s 2025 goal of 70 percent.

North Scott and Scott Community College staff said concurrent college and career certification is booming in the district, with much more to come.

“In the past, we said college and career training. It should be career and college. There are so many more pathways,” high school principal Shane Knoche told board members.

EICC already offers automotive, construction, welding, health care and education certification.

Coming next: Engineering tech, sign language, small business management, CNC machining, medical assistant and information technology.

“The goal of pathways is to help students in a defined way start to explore a career,” said EICC concurrent enrollment dean Gabe Knight.

North Scott concurrent enrollment coaching begins in eighth grade, high school counselor Tracy Denahy said. Students are surveyed to launch career vision plans. They are asked what things come easier for them, and make them feel successful; and areas for improvement.

“It’s not just, ‘What do you like to do?’ but ‘What kind of environment do you want to work in?’” Denahy said.

EICC concurrent academic advisor Alex Batten spends one to two days at the high school steering students to on-site training. His presence allows high school counselors to address “a lot more social and emotional needs,” for students, rather than figuring out college coursework.

That’s drawing more career interest.

“We used to send two kids to Scott Community College for CAN training. Now we have 40,” taking it at the high school, Knoche said.

That’s changing school district expectations.

“We’re not satisfied focusing only on graduation rate anymore. We’re looking at certification rates six years after graduation. We want to have 100 percent with of some sort of certification or degree,” Knoche said.

The 95 percent of students who graduate with college credit averaged 20 earned credit hours, Denahy said. Just using EICC tuition rates, concurrent enrollment saved families $761,000.

“It’s like we’re handing out scholarships every day,” board member John Maxwell said.

District property taxpayers cover most of the concurrent enrollment costs.

EICC concurrent education coordinator Anthony Bielski commended NS staff for meeting college coursework standards, a perennial challenge for concurrent programs.

$911K to close gaps

Stutting proposed spending $910,987 in federal pandemic school aid on reading and math interventionists for all elementaries and the junior high.

The funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER fund, will target students with achievement gaps attributable to the pandemic.

Stutting proposed using $415,092 in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years to hire six full-time math interventionists. The district would spend $80,803 to expand four elementary reading interventionists to full-time this semester.

The funding also will be used to build skills of other teachers to close gaps for all kids, Stutting said.

Board members also:

• Approved a request for $1,052,208 in supplemental aid. The money will be used to address at-risk students learning center and instructional support services.

• Will hold a public hearing on the 2022-23 school calendar at the 6:30 p.m., Jan. 24 meeting at Glenn Elementary in Donahue. A draft calendar based on staff feedback remains posted on the district website.



North Scott School Board, North Scott School District, North Scott High School, North Scott Junior High, Shane Knoche, Bruce Schwarz, Joe Stutting, Jill Van Roekel, Scott Community College, Tracy Denahy, Alex Batten, John Maxwell, Anthony Bielski, John Glenn Elementary School