BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - A laundry list of security improvements will greet students in the 2013-2014 school year if the Bloomington Public Schools have their way.
The district says the proposed improvements will better prepare, protect and respond to school emergencies.
Recommendations being considered stem from a four-month safety and security study of the district's schools, early childhood family centers and support facilities, says Rick Kaufman, director of community relations and emergency management.
Among the recommendations:
- Renovate all main entrances to limit school access by funneling visitors into the main office once school is in session. All visitors would be required to check-in using a new computerized visitor management system.
- Designate points of entry with electronic access control (e.g. card reader, keypads, etc.) and integrating exterior doors with the school's alarm system in the event a door is left ajar or an attempt is made to pry the door open.
- Upgrade all classroom doors with keysets that lock from the inside.
- Upgrade and install security cameras "as part of a comprehensive approach to school safety, one that focuses on awareness, intervention and prevention, as opposed to deterrence and detection," Kaufman noted.
- Install manual alarm activation devices for use in an emergency. "Their use is intended to move the school to a safe emergency condition, such as a lockdown," said Kaufman.
- Initiate a training program for all employees in accordance with the Incident Command System used by police, fire and emergency responders. School crisis plans will also be revised to ensure they are compliant with the National Incident Management System.
- Improve and monitor traffic control measures to reduce the potential for pedestrian versus vehicle incidents.
Kaufman, who led the crisis response team to the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, oversaw the school safety and security review. The district also enlisted the services of Paul McCullough, a certified emergency manager and 26-year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department, to conduct a formal security audit of each district school and facility.
City police and fire personnel also participated in the review process and provided valuable insights into the development of the recommendations.
"Today, our schools are better prepared to prevent or mitigate school incidents, and to respond to emergencies. However, there is still no 100 percent guarantee that our schools will be violence-free," said Kaufman. "While there are no easy solutions, there are intelligent alternatives to reduce the risks to life and property."
The recommendations are now being considered by the Bloomington School Board, which will discuss them at a meeting on Monday, May 13.
The report and recommendations can be found on the district's web site.
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