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New school security measures nearly complete

January 15, 2013

There’s nothing like having the peace of mind in knowing your beloved children are safe in someone else’s care, especially if they’re in someone else’s care for more than six hours each day.
And the West Point School Board of Trustees wants parents to know they are taking every security measure they can at West Point schools to ensure the safety, well-being and happiness of all students.
All six schools in the West Point School District as well as the Learning Center have undergone security changes that started about a month ago and are expected to be totally complete in the next couple of weeks. During Monday night’s West Point School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Rob Smith gave the board and guests an overview of the security changes aimed at enhancing the protection of students, faculty and staff on campus during school hours.
Both Church Hill Elementary and Southside Elementary campuses have new main entrances that lead visitors directly into the schools’ offices as opposed to the foyer. After Church Hill students have been dropped off in the morning at the old main entrance, those entrance doors will lock and people visiting after 8 a.m. must go to the new main entrance located to the right of the old entrance. Visitors must press a buzzer to notify the staff member at the front office, state their reason for visiting the school, then be led into the school if authorized to do so. Once inside the office, guests will still not be able to enter the rest of the school unless given access by an administrator in the front office.
The same process goes for South Side Elementary, which now has a new main entrance leading into the office as well. Though people who visit East Side Elementary and Fifth Street Junior High already have to go through the office first, they must also press a buzzer on the outside of the entrance door, letting administrators know their reasons for visiting.
“We want it to still be friendly and warm for our public; we don’t want it to make anybody feel isolated by any means, but we know we have to do things to keep our babies safe,” Smith said.
All entrances at every school are labeled, which lets guests know that there are surveillance cameras throughout the campus. The new district-wide camera system can be accessed from Central Office, allowing district administrators to monitor suspicious activities in and around all schools.
Also, every exit door besides the main entrances has a alarm buzzer that sounds loudly when the door is not secure and will continue to go off until the door is completely shut. The schools’ alarm systems have been totally overhauled, Smith said, and teachers now have alarm codes that allow them to get in and out.
There is still a little construction work to be done before the addition of the new security features are totally complete, such as putting in glass around the new entrance at Church Hill and adding intercom system at a couple of other campuses. Smith said the district was able to save by completing most of the construction work themselves.
The board talked about possible future plans for school security, such as adding panic buttons and hiring school resource officers, who would be already trained in law enforcement and authorized to carry a firearm.

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