School security has been a hot topic all across America for decades, but discussions ramped up after Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman killed 26 people – 20 elementary students and six adults – at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The actions of one has led school officials and lawmakers from coast to coast to discussion tables where they wrestled with the best methods to protect children in schools. Those discussions are not lost locally where school corporations have held public meetings to address concerns.
While Milford Town Council is currently struggling with an option to include a school resource officer at Milford School, the Wawasee Community School Corp. is looking toward grant possibilities to help fund additional officers for the corporation’s five school buildings. Warsaw School Board is also continuing to look at how to improve school safety.
For some, however, the schools’ actions just are not being implemented fast enough. StaceyPageOnline.com recently received an email noting a concern about North Webster Elementary School. Although the complaint was anonymous, we asked principal Kristine Woodard to address the person’s concerns.
The individual noted about a recent visit to the elementary school, “When I walked into the front office to sign in, I did not have to sign my name or what my business was that day. The office lady did not even know if the badge I wore was legit or not.
“After i was done with my business at the school, I walked back into the office where the principal, office lady, and another teacher was standing. I asked if I needed to sign out and the office lady did not even know why I was there, but still I did not have to sign out.”
The author added, “I am concerned about the school safety. They let just anyone into that school without signing in and out and not even knowing what their business is in the school. Other schools that I have visited this year (have) made me wear a badge of their own and sign in and out even though I had my own badge.”
Woodard responded to the concern with this statement: “We take the safety and well-being of our school very seriously. We currently have a system that requires all people who enter the building to ring a buzzer that brings up a visual monitor picture and voice access. The receptionists talk to each person prior to letting them enter the building, requiring them to state their business before entering the building. They are careful to monitor that they have a good visual of the person and their credentials prior to allowing them entry.”
Woodard added, “However, I have brought this concern to the attention of the office personnel and we will continue to improve the safety procedures for our school.”
And school corporations will likely not have a choice in improving those safety measures.
Senate Bill 1, mandated last month, provides – among other things – that public schools must employ an individual with a loaded firearm unless the school receives an annual waiver from the state. Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz and Wawasee Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Thomas Edington, both said that, should the mandate stay in effect, both school systems will attempt to receive grants to help in the hiring of trained security personal. (See full story)