Donation makes JBE a little safer

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By Carolyn Risner

The generosity of a Newberry businessman has ensured that students and staff at Joyce Bullock Elementary School will be safer this coming school term.

On Monday, Jeffrey E. Ference donated the funding necessary for the school to purchase software that will enable administrators to know just who is on their campus.

Late in the school year, Frances LaSalle, assistant principal, came before the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce to inform members of software the school wanted to purchase to help regulate the more than 6,000 visitors to their school each year.

The cost for the software is $1,400 plus some $500 annual maintenance fee, LaSalle said. Chamber members were supportive of the concept and Dr. Bill Bennett said then he thought he might know someone who could help.

And help he did.

“Levy County has been very good to me,” Ference said Monday. “I wanted to give something back.”

Dr. Bennett concurred. “He believes in giving back,” he said of his friend and fishing buddy. “He treats us good.”

Raptor, the software the school will purchase with Ference’s donation, has been used at Yankeetown School, LaSalle said.

It’s capabilities are numerous, she added and will be used not only for visitors to the school, but will also be vital in screening the more than 600 people who volunteer there each year.

Here’s how it works: a driver’s license or state-issued identification card is scanned into the system. Immediately, it screens against multiple states’ sex offender databases.

This is particular appealing, Principal Jaime Handlin said, because administrators will now be able to continually monitor volunteers instead of the one-time screening done at the beginning of the school year. That way, if an incident does occur after the first check, Raptor will pick up on it and alert the administration. Currently volunteer forms are only cross references with the FDLE sex offender datebase.

Raptor will also enable staff to send text alerts to cell phones, pagers, e-mail and voice calls in emergencies. It also enters individuals who have custody issues or restraining orders.

The InstAlert feature allows law enforcement personnel to send security updates or brief the school on situations that could compromise the safety of the campus.

On a day-to-day basis, Raptor will also print visitor passes, student tardy passes, student detention slips, volunteer badges and temporary student and faculty IDs.

Raptor also tracks visitors, students and faculty in and out, the number of hours volunteers work and date range.