GRISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan is excited about the new the school year, which begins Aug 16.
“We have been working hard this summer on new security policies and hiring new teachers. I am ready for the students to come back and get things started," Rotan said.
Even after 28 years in the education field Rotan looks forward to the first day of school.
“We are always looking for new ways to improve and find new services to offer our students. I spend all summer thinking of how I can better serve my community, staff and students," he said.
Rotan has been superintendent for 14 years. He is dedicated to his staff and students. During the school year he makes it a priority to visit each campus a minimum of eight hours a week.
He also likes to get to work by 7:15 so he can be at the elementary school to greet and open car doors for students. He tries to be back at the end of the day to see them leave and assist with getting them on buses.
Summer may be vacation time for others but not Rotan. He took a brief vacation to Colorado with his wife and came right back to work.
“My only hobbies are going to as many extracurricular activities as I can, that’s how I like to unwind,” said Rotan.
Rotan understands that the biggest concern for parents and students is school safety.
“This was a big part of our summer, reviewing and adjusting our school safety plan,” said Rotan.
Rotan and his staff are faced with many challenges when it comes to implementing plans for each campus.
“What’s hard about it is every minute of the day is different and that affects the emergency response system. You have students in the cafeteria, on the playground and in the restroom or like at the high school with so many changing classes," he said. "There are just so many variables and while we can’t have a perfect plan to encompass all of that, we have a great general plan that is very much teacher directed.
“Our plans are predicated on two things: First is to increase response time from our first responders and two is to buy our students and staff safety time.”
Two new safety measures Rotan would like the community to be aware of are:
1. Parents and visitors will now have to present their drivers license to be scanned and a quick background check will be run before being issued a visitor's badge.
2. A new resource officer has been put in place for every campus.
Teachers are able to communicate internally through the phone systems. If a student is in the restroom or in the hall and has to take cover in another room, teachers can call each other and relay information and their location. This measure helps not only the student and teacher but also to relay more accurate information to first responders.
There is also an app on every teacher’s computer called Top Synch 911. The app bypasses the 911 system and sends a message to the nearest five officers.
The app tells the exact room number and location to increase response time. All the entrance doors on campuses are numbered and the first responders can communicate to each other on what is the quickest point of entry to that facility.
Another issue Rotan and his staff are working on is training substitute teachers on the plan and procedure.
“We researched other school shootings and one of the issues was the substitute teachers didn’t know the process. We have worked out a new training system for our substitutes to make sure they are properly trained and prepared for any situation,” said Rotan.
“I would like to remind everyone to be understanding the first couple of days after school starts. Traffic will be a little congested and be mindful of buses, students walking to and from school. Please be patient as we get used to our new safety practices as well."
The community is invited to a pep rally on Aug. 20 after the volleyball game.
“I’m excited to get this year started and looking forward to new memories,” said Rotan.