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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 READER PANEL SURVEY RESULTS
Security increasing at schools
When asked “Have recent mass shootings prompted your district to increase security at its schools?” your answer was unequivocal -- more than 85 percent of you said, “Yes!”
Most of the improvements you have implemented revolve around ways to keep the doors locked -- you have created security vestibules, double entries, and buzzer entries, and moved to fob technologies and card access, replacing easily duplicated keys.
A lot of you are using SROs or reaching or formalizing agreements with local police. Emergency drills involving all emergency agencies are now a regular occurrence in some schools. Most districts are making sure their administrators and staff have the emergency training they need. Some are even getting their staff certified by FEMA. Here is just a sample of your best security practices:
To the question, "If your district has increased school security, in what ways has it been increased?"
We have been fortunate to have built three new schools in the last four years. These school have double entries that allow the second set of doors to be locked during school hours, making [those seeking] entry to the building come to the office. We have card readers at the outside doors so you have to have a card to open these doors. We are in the process of installing card readers at all of our schools. A simple solution we are using until permanent measures are installed is a series of posts with straps ( like those used at airports )that connect to each other to guide people to the office. While it is not the best it does provide a visual cue and make trying to get by much more noticeable.
School Board Member, Washington
There is more interest in card entries, keeping doors locked except for front entrance. There is increased effort to make sure everyone signs in, and staff is more vigilant of all adults in the buildings. Security lights, cameras are also of interest to school community. We are grateful for the School Resource Officers in all our middle schools and high schools. Their presence adds a sense of security throughout the day.
Maria A Flores, School Board Member, New Mexico
Frederick County Public Schools (Md.) believes school security has advanced to a broader level: emergency management. We believe training in preparation, response, and recovery is the best way to enhance school security because the physical barriers and technology tools are not effective if we do not have competent and trained staff utilizing those tools and understanding emergency management techniques. In our district, all 66 principals and central office executive leaders have been certified in Incident Command System (ICS) by FEMA. (contact Ann Bonitatibus, Chief Operating Officer for Frederick County Public Schools, Maryland for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org) ICS training is available (at no cost) from FEMA online at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/is/is100sc.asp IS-100.SC Introduction to the Incident Command System, I-100, for Schools Course Overview: The Emergency Management Institute developed the Introduction to ICS for Schools course in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. The course is designed primarily for kindergarten through high school personnel. IS-100.SC for Schools follows the National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines. Buzzer & camera entry systems installed at all schools. Where feasible, main entrance foyers being redesigned/renovated for double-entry doors that guide visitors immediately into front office. Installation of Alertus emergency notification systems in all front offices of schools. Use of emergency management software that provides immediate blanket emergency notifications on computer screens.
Ann Bonitatibus, Chief Operating Officer, Maryland
Installed camera phones with "buzz thru" devices on front doors of all schools (some already had them). Began an effort to build "security vestibules" at the entrance of each school which will force visitors to first have to enter the school,office before being allowed to access hallways where classrooms are present. Have also started upgrading security camera systems. Biggest problem has been a lack of additional dollars to implement these projects. Has meant we cannot go forward with these projects as quickly as we would like.
Jeff Phillips, School Board Member, North Carolina
Due to bomb threats painted on the high school building last week, we had to close school for a day to get the building cleared. What followed was more threats scrolled on bathroom stall doors of the girls room. Since then we have had numerous police inside and outside of the building and purchased additional security cameras.
School Board Member, Ohio
Added cameras to some buzz in doors. Limited public access to one (buzz in) entrance at high school and one (Buzz in) entrance at elementary. All other entrances have cameras and you might get buzzed in if you are staff or are recognized, otherwise you will need to go to the main entrance. Stopped allowing some doors to be propped open for convenience of students and/or staff. Increased outside lighting in parking lots.
School Board Member, Nebraska
At the time of the east coast shooting we had a board member that was also a police detective. He encouraged us to sit down with all three municipalities that make up our district and discuss how to cut down the response time. Since that initial discussion each one of our seven schools has a tailored emergency plan complete with "safe" spots and panic buttons. I am very happy to see that we have made many alterations in our plan and although we cannot prevent such an horrible event we can now deal with it much better.
Leslie Miller, School Board Member, Ohio
We elevated our security from regularly-timed guards for specific periods of the day, to all-day-long sessions using our local armed constables, as well as at every public meeting. Camera usage has doubled in all areas including buses and hallways. Entry systems and door passage waiting areas have been updated as well. Magnetic door locking systems were added for every room as a form of deterent in the case of a armed intrusion.
School Board Member, Pennsylvania
Our changes were physical for the most part. We now have increased video surveillance in all of our buildings. Also, most of our buildings now have a secure entry with two locked doors. After being buzzed in through the first door, the visitor interacts with the school secretary, who sits behind bulletproof glass. She then can open the second door, once the visit has been determined to be legitimate. The secretary also has access to an alarm. We have had a policeman, detailed from our local police force, in our high school for years. The officer has always worn a gun as a part of the uniform. Consequently, there have been no calls to arm our teachers or hire armed security guards. No one, other than law enforcement personnel, is allowed on school property with a firearm.
School Board Member, Wisconsin
It has been increased by showing more diligence with the department we have. One major thing we did was move the security office from near the back of the building in the Maintenance and Operations area to a building next to the fron entrance of the school campus to make it more visible when people enter the main entrance of the District. We also purchased more security vehicles so more security guards could be mobile around the District.
Harry E Martin, Superintendent, Arizona
Teachers and administrators are more aware of the need to secure buildings. Individuals have reviewed and practiced plans. A system-wide buzz-in system at front doors has been put in place including cameras to veiw individuals seeking building entry by secretaries. We have eliminated use of keys to enter buildings and switched to use of swipe cards/fobs to enter the buildings by staff so entry into the buildings may be tracked better.
Added a School Recourse Officer (SRO) at our Jr High and High School No difficulities. Having them in the schools is actually a good thing.
Anita Brock, School Board Member, Ohio
A security/safety audit was done by Safe Havens for our district, and completed just before the Newtown shootings. I think we were even more concerned after those occurred. The most important thing done was hiring a safety expert instead of making the insurance risk person do double duty. We now have excellent safety plans for the district office and each school and classroom. Employees receive training on how to implement safety plans effectively. Our schools have installed transparent walls to route visitors through the office so they can be screened and monitored. New board policies allow much more video taping for security, and new electronic card locking systems allow better control of employee keys.
Ginny Moe, School Board Member, South Carolina
The Tempe Elementary School District is a proactive district. Several weeks before the Sandy Hook shootings, the district had participated in a training with the police department. During the spring and summer, renovations were done at several schools to enclose the front office and limit access to the rest of the school. Electronic marquees that can also be programmed at the district office were installed at several schools. We have added two school resource officers (SRO's) so now all three middle schools have an SRO.
Rochelle Wells, School Board Member, Arizona
We now have secured and automated doors on 10 or our 11 buildings and have plans to upgrade the other. Also plans to replace classroom entry doors that can be locked from the inside. Policy now in place that all classrooms are locked during the day. Doing more Armed Intruder drills in all buildings PK-12. The Fire Dept has it right....regular drills allow for better reactions in case of an emergency. Intruder drills must now occur regularly, too!!
Peggy Taylor, School Board Member, Missouri
We have changed the ways all vistors and parents enter our buildings by adding new security features to our schools. We are in the process of adding a Resource Officer to our High School,we also are trying to determine what other safety measures we might need to make at our high school.
Carolyn Jones, School Board Member, Kentucky
Installation of more security hardware, increased security guards, construction of vestibules at each school, controlled entryways, security cameras, etc
School Board Member, New York
The main difficulty is to create a secure school of one that was built in a campus style in 1956. The solution to any concern such as this is of course a lack of capital funding with which to do this.
Robert F. Dooley, Ed.D., Superintendent, Arizona
We increased security BEFORE the recent shooting. We have all our schools (elem, middle and high) with rennovated entries that require all people entering the buildings to go past a secretary to check in. All doors are now locked and there is only one door through which you can enter the school.
Dr. Richard Mason, School Board Member, Wisconsin
Our Board of Commissioners is working with us, along w/ our Sheriff's Dept., to increase presence of deputies on all of our campuses. A few weeks ago, deputies began spending approx. four hours a week of their off-duty time at schools. Teachers, parents and children love this! We have installed/are installing buzz-in systems at all schools and are upgrading our security camera systems at each school. Both our superintendent and our county manager are very committed, concerned, forward-thinking, hard-working individuals who are working well together to move our county in a good direction. Our Board of Education and Board of Commissioners meet together periodically to discuss budget and other concerns about our schools.
Claire R. Whitehurst, School Board Member, North Carolina
Complete policy and procedures reviews with refresher emergency action training in all schools.
School Board Member, Alaska
We immediately reduced access to the building during student arrival in the mornings. All elementary students now go to the gymnasium (where paraprofessionals supervise) until school starts and all junior/senior high school students can only enter through one door and an administrator is always present during the time that students are entering the school. There was initially some internal struggles with the change for the elementary students because they used to line up outside (with paraprofessionals supervising) so the gym teachers and custodians had some concerns regarding the change.
Business Manager, Illinois
Secured entrances with identity systems.
School Board Member, Alabama
We had already instituted many security features BEFORE the recent incidents. This included security cameras inside the hallways and outside of our high school and junior high buildings, locked doors with buzz in at main entrances to all buildings, and a barrier which is locked after school starts in the high school parking lot to reduce vehicle drive through. We have had liaison with the local police force to provide service to each of our buildings and have recently formalized an informal agreement for the past two years with our police department to have a uniformed school resource officer serve our high school and junior high school during the times that the school is in session. Initially we had some grumbling with the locking of doors in our buildings but because of the notoriety of recent events those complaints have virtually disappeared.
Terry Reed, School Board Member, Indiana
We were already working to increase security measures on school sites (REMS grant implementation since 2011, security cameras, entrance "buzz-ins", etc.), and following the Boston Marathon bombing there was discussion at our next School Committee meeting by our Director of Public Facilities about security measures across the district.
Mary Ann Stewart, School Board Member, Massachusetts
Our district devised a new training video that was released to all teachers and admins at the beginning of the school year. The major change to our policy is that we are training our personal to be more aggressive towards perpetrators when no other options are available. In other words, "fight back". The training module discusses what items can be used in the classroom to accomplish this goal. The video has been well received by the district.
Dr. Troy Rohn, School Board Member, Idaho
Training Ad Team and teaching staff on how to physically fight back against an intruder.
Thomas M. Langdon, Ed.D., Superintendent, Michigan
As a knee jerk reaction to the shootings in Conn., our district voted to spend 750,000 dollars on cameras. We previously had cameras only at our middle school and all building entrances. With the expenditure of 750,000, we went to over 90 cameras in a building that houses 600 and will put cameras in all of our other five buildings. I call it a knee jerk reaction because I did not feel we needed to go to that extent where every door, hall, lobby, etc. has more cameras than they need. We already had all doors locked in every building with secure entry ways at the entrance of every building where you had to be buzzed in after presenting an id through a secure window to the school secretary. No, we do not have bullet proof glass at any of the windows or doors. We do already have name tags worn by all staff, sign in and out ledgers, and strict rules that are followed. I felt that the 750 thousand was over kill. Sandy Hook had all of the security we previously had and the intruder shot his way in. Bullet proof glass in whole buildings would be the only thing that could have stopped the SH shooter.
Joanne Schaeffer, School Board Member, Illinois
Security procedures are reviewed annually regardless of the headlines. Staff concerns did prompt checking each and every lock, with many being replaced. Also, lock down/lockout drills were not being done or documented, particularly at the Elementary level. We now have the drills, have had security experts observe the drills, and made further improvements in procedures. Many community members would like a high tech entry system, while others would like more security guards, as most of ours are both off duty police officers and community members. As always, budget implications are part of the debate. Our district's Project SAVE committee, made up of Administrators, teachers, psychologists, district support staff, building/grounds staff, parents, police, firemen, and a school board member meet several times each year to continually improve our procedures. One of the difficulties we encounter is the belief that we live in a safe place, and our school doors should be open to the community at all times. Many believe nothing could ever happen in our schools, while many of us believe those schools in the headlines thought the same thing until it happened to them. The other hurdle is Tech vs. human -- who/what can really keep our kids safe?
Diane D'Angelo, School Board Member, New York
We just did a full scale Active Shooter Training Exercise with law enforcement, fire, EMS/first Responders, emergency management, SWAT, and school personnel last Saturday. This was part of a five year project to create and implement a Crisis Management Plan for all school districts in our county. This was an outstanding opportunity for all agencies to practice their protocols, and for our district to practice parent/student reunification. We had probably 150 people from different agencies participating. Amy Nehls - Emergency Management for Dodge County Wisconsin helped organize the event.
Douglas W. Keiser, Ph.D., Superintendent, Wisconsin
Hired security officers for front doors installed cameras throughout
School Board Member, New York
Added a police officer at each school. Additional training for principals.
Jan Harris, Retired Superintendent, Alabama
As a policy, all outer doors are locked during the school day, the routes to the bathrooms have changed and the instructions for an intruder have been revised, with the help of our local police enforcement.
Shari, School Board Member, California
I liked the story about the school that hired art and music teachers instead of security guards and decreased discipline problems. The chance of a major incident is so much tinier than chances of traffic fatalities or health problems from the poor diet that we feed our children that I don't think it should be a major focus.
School Board Member, Ohio
Actually, prior to the shootings we had commissioned a safety study by an outside consultant. The shootings simply provided us an opportunity to have the study presented earlier than planned. We are still in the process of evaluating -- mostly, an update to some of our main entrances to install 2nd secure doorways so that all sites are similar in level of access provided.
Phil Pritzker, School Board Member, Illinois
Single point to enter a dedicated person to monitor door and anyone who enters/leaves New technology that will scan driver licence and valid against various databases.
School Board Member, New York