District ups security after Conn. shooting

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – In the wake of the recent Newtown, Conn., school shooting, school officials here are taking steps to ensure students’ safety.

At its Jan. 29 school board meeting Supt. Russell Pickell outlined safety steps the school is taking after Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.

The district plans to add a buzzer entry system to doors in district buildings for use during the school day.

“It is a mild deterrent to someone truly intent on doing harm, but it may provide us those few extra seconds for our first responders to get there, “ Pickell said.

Pickell said he recently discussed the plan with parents at recent parent club meetings in district schools, and most agreed that any inconvenience it caused them was worth the added level of safety.

“That may mean you’re waiting outside until someone buzzes you in,” Pickell said, “but they said ‘You know, that is a trade-off we realize we need to take in order to provide an extra layer of security.’”

In addition, Pickell said the district will add a silent alarm system to all its buildings for the administration to use in case of emergency. Administrators will access the system and notify first responders through a key fob they carry with them, he said.

These additions, he said, are the most cost effective and agreed upon by the most parents.

He said for now, the district will stick to those upgrades and measures it already takes, like frequent police patrols in the school buildings and the presence of father mentors who check building doors during the school day, and will review its current policies to see where else safety can be improved.

But he hopes to see the district steer clear of some of the more radical steps discussed elsewhere in the wake of the shooting, he said.

“There are a lot of crazy discussions out there about providing armed guards, providing police officers, arming the teachers and things like that,” Pickell said. “That is something we obviously have to keep an eye on legislatively but I don’t think our teachers want that responsibility and I certainly don’t want to arm them as well.”