Weekly Feature



2013-01-16 / Front Page

Security measures re-evaluated; ‘incident drill’ planned

by STEVEN JAGORD
Editor


Hicks Hicks Re-examining security precautions at district schools in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last month was at the forefront of the agenda at the Clarence Central Board of Education meeting on Monday night.

“One of the things we realized we need to do is practice more [for these kinds of incidents],” said Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks. “We are committed to practicing a large-scale intruder drill with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department where they will bring the SWAT team into our high school and allow us to go through as if there was a real intruder alert.”

Hicks is in discussions with representatives from both the Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police to organize the drill and hopes to have everything in place for it to occur next month. He intends to invite administrators from each of the district’s school buildings as well as representatives from neighboring districts to come and observe.


Clarence Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks is organizing an “incident drill” at Clarence High School to better prepare students should they ever face a situation like the one in Newtown, Conn. Clarence Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks is organizing an “incident drill” at Clarence High School to better prepare students should they ever face a situation like the one in Newtown, Conn. In the interim, district procedures and policies are being revamped to provide greater security.

“We have had meetings with all clerical staff and principals to talk through exactly how we want people entering the building, and we have taken those procedures that had become somewhat lax over the years and tightened them up significantly,”

Hicks said.

In a presentation that outlined short- and long-term fixes, Hicks requested that the board consider electronic key cards for personnel who have access to buildings.

“We currently have video monitors so we can see individuals and ask them questions before buzzing them in, but what we really feel is necessary is to have electronic swipe cards,” he said. “We have put together a proposal somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 that will have our maintenance and tech staff install all of the equipment including a server that logs every time someone enters and leaves the building.”

Hicks added that cards could be programmed to allow access only at certain times of day for added security and that the equipment could be installed by the end of the school year.

He also suggested that cordoning off areas of buildings with the electronic access cards would also provide added security during after hours events such as athletics.

“The Sandy Hook tragedy makes all of us rethink things,” he said. “We have refocused and taken a look through our district safety committee, and we have sought the help of police departments. We will have a revamped safety plan.”

Members of the Board of Education were open to the electronic cards option but wanted to know what was being done in the interim.

“What are some of the more immediate changes that might be noticed by someone visiting?” asked board President Michael Lex.

“One thing we are going to is when we have visitors to the school not only are we going to ask them their purpose for being there and they have to sign in at the main office, they also have to get a badge,” Hicks said. “We have been a little bit lax about the adults in our building having their security badges on at all times. We’re not going to be lax about it anymore.”

Hicks said clerical employees throughout the district have been consulted on the increased vigilance that is expected of them when admitting guests into buildings. Fewer doors will be open in the mornings and afternoons than in thepast,andoneschool,Ledgeview Elementary, is getting an upgraded wireless doorbell system.

“It’ll be a little more obtrusive to get into the buildings,” Hicks said. “And we’re going to have discussions with the students about not opening doors.”

In another matter, the girls varsity swim team was recognized for their championship season last fall.

“No team has won three relays in one meet,” said Coach Joe Zweirzchewski. “These girls won three, two of them in state record time.”

Each member of the team was presented with a championship T-shirt and received the praise of the board.

“The school and the community are very proud of you,” Lex said. “We’re in awe of what you’ve done.”

The next Board of Education meeting will begin the debate over next year’s budget and will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at Clarence High School, 9625 Main St.

email: sjagord@beenews.com

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