Whitley schools takes steps to upgrade security
Visitors to Whitley County schools are starting to see some changes that the district is implementing to improve school security in wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting last year.
"If you have been on the central campus lately, you may have noticed we have additional security personnel in our guard shack since Jan. 22," Superintendent Scott Paul told the board of education Thursday night.
Starting about 8:15 a.m. each school day, visitors to the campus will have to stop at the guard shack and sign in and the guard will radio one of the three schools.
A security gate was installed there, which is also helps control the flow of traffic into the campus.
"We have got lots of positive feedback about that," Paul added. "It is not just about locked doors any more. Technology plays a huge roll in school security."
In addition, the district has ordered hardware and software to install buzzed entry systems into every school in the district. Currently the system is already in place at four schools.
"This means no one can enter the building unless the doors are electronically unlocked," Paul said.
"Visitors cannot just walk up and walk into the front office area without being buzzed in or having the doors unlocked for them. Accompanying that will also be an intercom system so we can ask what their business is."
Paul said that the school district is also in the process of installing a card reader system at Whitley County High School.
The project was started during the last renovation effort.
"We are completing that system right now. When it is complete, we will have the ability to lock down our high school or any school that we install this in from any web-based computer," Paul noted.
"If we have an event at the high school and need to go to an immediate lockdown, then that is something we will be able to do here from the central office."
The district intends to include this security system at the new Pleasant View Elementary School, which will begin construction this summer.
Eventually, the board hopes to install the card system at all 10 schools in the district, Paul said.
"I think just about every school system in the country is taking a closer look at school safety and security. We are certainly no different in Whitley County," Paul said.
So far, the district hasn't received any help from the state to pay for the upgrades.
Board of Education Member Delmar Mahan noted that improved training for students could also be a key to improving school safety.
"Those are the best ears we have out there," he added.
Paul noted that the district has two full-time security officers on its staff, including Whitley County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Lennon, who is the longest serving school resource officer in the state.
He said there are only two other districts, which have had school resource officers longer than Whitley County.
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