As of last week, anyone trying to enter a school must state their name and reason for entering in front of a camera and intercom monitored by front desk staff. The staff can then choose to press a button and unlock the door to let the person enter.
Yes, that means parents and others will no doubt have to spend a few extra moments standing in the hot September sun, or later the cold or rain, but the enhanced safety and peace of mind will be well worth it.
“There’s no fool-proof system out there,” said the district’s public safety director, Ron Storey. “There’s always the possibility of someone intruding, but this cuts down on that possibility.”
The cameras have been installed at 93 elementary and middle schools at a cost of $279,000.
The cameras will not be installed in the system’s high schools because those students tend to enter and exit the buildings many times during the day to get to various classes, according to district spokesman Jay Dillon.
The cameras aren’t the only safety enhancement. The system now has more campus police officers as well.
Eleven additional officers have been hired, bringing the total to 52, plus four supervisors. The enlarged force means the system will now have one officer patrolling every high school and every middle school. The middle school officers are also responsible for covering the corresponding elementary schools.
The $402,000 needed for the additional officers came from the system’s general fund and was approved by the school board May 29.
In addition, each of the district’s police officers will have a patrol car within the next month. There are 37 on order, to go along with the 16 police vehicles already on hand. The $1.1 million for the patrol cars is funded by the special purpose local option sales tax.
School safety does not come cheap, and the latest enhancements are both a sad sign of the times — and a welcome development.