Su­per­in­ten­dent lays out en­hanced se­cu­rity plan

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Cary Beavers

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.

“We need to try to make sure we have a sLJnL­fiFDnW DmRunW RI FDmHUDs DW WKH RWKHU schools,” Klein said.

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.

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