Angela Britain-Smith, Director of Operations
Angela Britain-Smith, Director of Operations at MSD Washington Township, brings 30 years of educational qualifications extending into facilities management, maintenance, custodial, food services, safety, and security. Ms. Britain-Smith holds a MS degree & Indiana School Administration Licensure from Butler University; BS degrees in Library Services K-12 & Speech & Communications 5-12 from Indiana University & Purdue University; and an Associate degree in Applied Science Human Services & Social Work from Indiana Vocational Technical College. She is an Indiana Certified Safety Specialist and former building administrator.
Mike Kneebone, Director of Technology
Mike has been in education for twenty-four years. Now in his 12th year as Director of Technology, he oversees all aspects of technology procurement, deployment, integration, and support. Mike holds BS & MS degrees in Education & Educational Technology from Indiana University.
Is Washington Township schools doing anything new with their current construction projects around safety and security?
ABS – Safety and security has always been one of our top priorities. When we did the planning for our 2016 referendum projects, we had four priorities – one of those being “safety and security”.
It is extremely important for the Director of Operations and the Director of Technology to have a close working relationship. Together, we need to fully understand the educational specifications and design standards in order to hit the mark.
Can you describe what this includes?
Angela – We are implementing several different measures: secure entries, lockdown features, and mass notification alert systems. Hardware features have also been added to classroom doors with a visual indicator showing if a door is locked or unlocked.
Mike – Our key technological focus behind all measures is to make everything easy to use and accessible to everyone in a lockdown situation. To help with this, we’ve added in a smartphone function to secure doors and trigger alerts throughout various locations of the building.
Another feature we’ve decided to incorporate is sound control. With everything going on in a classroom (movies, digital presentations, and other interactive media), we realized there is a need to auto duck audio if there is an alert being sent out. We tied all the systems together so that the alert audio has the priority, ensuring everyone can hear them.
With so many safety and security options out there, how did you determine to do these items?
Angela – We had a process in place. We engaged with a consultant for educational specs, worked with our professional partners in regards to design standards, involved many stakeholders (teachers, custodians, cafeteria staff, administrators, district leadership, etc.) to outline our priorities. The district is also engaged with a technology consultant who helped us set up webinar and info sessions to look at the different technologies available in order to make the best decisions for Washington Township.
We also attend conferences on a regular basis and collaborate with our District Police Department and local agencies to stay up to date with the best safety and security practices.
Mike – Ultimately, we used a very collaborative process to come up with our plan. What helps all the systems work together seamlessly is knowing what every department needs and what they are implementing. During the initial visioning sessions, we were able to learn how to integrate all of the systems.
Are you doing anything that is not related to the actual building, but an increased focus such as guidance counselors spending more time with students?
Angela – This is another important area to focus on. Whenever we have the opportunity to increase our operating budgets, we certainly review our social and mental support service in regard to need and capacity. During our 2016 operational referendum, we brought in additional social workers. Just recently, we were able to add more guidance councilors at our high school.
Can you describe the experience of working with Schmidt Associates?
Angela – It is always very positive and collaborative, which is most important. Schmidt Associates has the district’s best interest in mind, and they work really hard to ensure the design is inclusive of Washington Township’s needs and priorities. The team is also extremely responsive and answers any questions we have very quickly, which is very appreciated.