Superintendent lays out enhanced security plan
COUNCIL ROCK - After three public forums and numerous discussions with administrators and members of the school board and the community, Superintendent Mark Klein unveiled his recommendations for improved school security at the board’s meeting Thursday night.
Klein said the bottom line, for now, is nearly $800,000 in expenditures. The money is earmarked for new and updated equipment, staffing and secure vestibules and key fobs. The board took no action on the new security measures, so aspects of the proposal could change.
The superintendent is asking that his recommendations be implemented by the start of the upcoming school year, with the exception of some new hires, who he would like in place before the current school year ends. Klein said that his proposal is aimed not only at preventing national headline-making and comparatively rare tragedies, but issues students encounter on a daily basis.
“The majority of the risks we face on a regular day do not come from that errant stranger who wanders into our school with the intent of doing harm,” Klein said. “It comes from things like drug and alcohol abuse, suicide ideation and really just the care and feeding of 11,500 kids on a regular basis.”
The hour-long presentation is the culmination of a nearly two-month investigation by Klein and other members of Council Rock’s administration into how to make the district’s 15 schools safer. The need for stepped-up security was inspired by the highly publicized massacre in Newtown, Conn., as well as a threat against Council Rock South just before Christmas.
Klein’s focus changed little, if at all, from WKH mRmHnW KH RSHnHG KLs fiUsW FRmmunLWy forum Jan. 14 at Hillcrest Elementary until he wrapped up his remarks Thursday evening. The GLsWULFW KDs LGHnWLfiHG WKH HnHmy, sR WR sSHDN, DnG KDs vRwHG WR fiJKW LW SDssLRnDWHOy EuW nRW with a presence so strong it would unnerve children trying to learn.
“It’s a balance right now,” Klein said. “We’re trying to keep an open and caring school environment and we’re running that very tight line between when we want to keep the secure school setting and not have the schools look overly concerned, overly locked down, overly secure so that they create anxiety among the kids and parents.”
The process begins when entering the building, Klein said. Each visitor will be directed WKURuJK WKH mDLn RIfiFH, DnG WKHn DOORwHG WR enter the main part of the school if there is a legitimate reason for him or her to be there.
Klein said his objective is to keep in-school life as normal as possible while also maximizing security within each school. It was just as obvious that Klein took seriously the suggestions made at the public forums, incorporating many of them into what he hopes will be his district’s new plan.
He presented a four-tiered program, including separate sections on visitor controls, facility improvements, training and intervention and sWDIfinJ. TKURuJK LW DOO, .OHLn sDLG WKDW muFK RI the prevention could lie with the students he’s charged with protecting.
“See something, say something,” was introduced during the training portion of Klein’s talk, but was repeated often enough that it became a theme. The superintendent referenced students’ help in alerting district personnel and police to the December threat, and said that there have been two recent incidents where students have interceded on behalf of fellow students they perceived to be in trouble.
“We need to continue to say to them, ‘When you see something you’re not comfortable with on social media – either a suicide ideation or a threat -- they need to talk to their parents and their parents need to talk to us to decide what’s right to do,” Klein said. “This idea that it’s not right to tattle tale or snitch is not present anymore at Council Rock.”
Klein said he wanted to add to the district’s 144 cameras, most of which are in place at the two high schools.
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Klein said he leaned heavily on the police chiefs whose departments serve Council Rock’s community to develop the plan.
“They looked at our recommendations and gave us a thumbs-up on some things and also said things like, ‘No, that might not work,’” Klein said. There will be more of a police presence in the schools, though not so much to initiate a culture of concern among the students.
“Each department has taken it upon themselves to create a random police presence in our schools,” Klein said. “But this will be in a random way, which is a good thing because no- body can rely that on Friday at 8 a.m. the police will be at Goodnoe. The fact that it is random is a deterrent in and of itself.”
Klein said the administration considered adding a tip-line important, even imperative. Bucks County agreed, and beat them to the punch.
“At the same time we were [talking about adding a tip line], Bucks County published a school watch tip line,” Klein said. “This is a 24-hour line manned by people who know what they’re doing on those phones. We’ll be working with Bucks County. They’ll report back to us and we’ll be logging the information.”
Klein walked the board and the meeting’s atWHnGHHs WKURuJK RWKHU sSHFLfiF SDUWs RI KLs SODn, including an altered protocol for visitors entering schools, an ID card swipe system hooked up to national and local databases, additional cameras, alarm buttons and more. He stayed DwDy IURm sSHFLfiFs, WKRuJK, DnG IRU JRRG UHDson, according to the superintendent.
“There is not the requisite detail that a lot of people would like to see within these various recommendations,” Klein said. “It makes little sense to tell you exactly what we’re going to do, exactly where we’re going to position cameras, exactly where we’re going to put panic alarms. That could somewhat undermine the recommendations that we’re making in the effort to seek out what we’re trying to do.”
Klein hopes to fund part of his plan with “Melsky money.” The superintendent is referring to money the district received from the January 2010 sale of a tract of land located on Stoopville Road. Funds from the sale of the Melsky tract can’t be used for personnel because of the way the board allocated the proceeds of the sale.