Visiting a District 24 school this year will be more difficult than it had been, as a series of security enhancements that are taking effect this month, Superintendent Dr. Edward Fale announced last week.
The idea, Fale explained, is to keep closer reins on who comes into the three elementary schools. School districts across the country have been reviewing and overhauling security procedures since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in December.
Fale said anyone with a legitimate reason for visiting the school will still be allowed in, such as parent volunteer or a deliveryman. But they will have to go through a more rigorous security check. They will have to present identification before being allowed into the school, and the district is planning to add license scanners soon. The front desk monitor must also verify that each visitor has an appointment. Everyone will have to sign in and wear a name tag.
The procedures will be the same for every visitor to the school. Gone are the days where frequent visitors, such as PTA leaders, will basically be allowed to come and go as they please. “There’s going to be an initial period where it’s going to seem strange,” Fale said.
He did say that district officials don’t want to create backups at the front door at times when there might be a lot of visitors to a school at once, such as a student performance or on budget vote day. These situations will need to monitored, Fale said, to see if the district’s procedures need to be tweaked.
Instead of hiring security guards to work the front doors, Fale said that the district’s existing monitors have received security training and will continue in their positions. However, the district does plan to hire two security guards to patrol the outsides of the school buildings during the day. Fale said that it is important to watch over more than just the front doors.
Fale said the salary for those guards will be $20 per hour and preference will be given to people with a law enforcement background. Retired police officers, Fale said, have training that could be essential, such as the knowledge of how to calm a situation.
Those guards must have the same security training as the inside monitors. Fale said that the district wants to beef up the presence outside the schools. “My belief is you really have to try to protect the outside perimeter,” he said. “A lot of thought and a lot of work went into developing this security plan.”