Maplewood Principal Ed Eding sits in front of closed-circuit views of the school. In the event of an armed intruder, he must lock himself in this room and report to the school where the intruder is located.
A team of administrators and faculty informed Sylvania parents that more procedures and structural changes to school buildings are being undertaken in the Sylvania schools to ensure a safe learning environment.
Sidelight windows next to class doors at the elementary schools have been replaced with Lexan, a sturdy material made of polycarbonate plastic, administrators told parents at the Sylvania Schools Parent Organization meeting Friday.
Scott Nelson, assistant superintendent who also heads the Safety and Security Committee, said plans are in progress to replace glass vestibules and doors at school entrances with the material. It is known to hold its integrity, even after subjected to bullets or blunt attacks.
About 14 members of the parent organization, along with school parents, sat in on the hour presentation that gave each subcommittee or person in charge of a section of security an opportunity to brief attendees on past efforts and future endeavors. There were eight presenters total, who included Bob Verhelst, director of student services, and Alan Bacho, director of facilities.
The safety and security initiatives add another layer of protection in addition to the proactive ALICE — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — approach to handling threats, which is implemented at the district’s 12 school buildings.
Kate Fineske, club president, said after the presentation she felt secure sending her three children — one of whom attends preschool at Northview High School — to Sylvania schools.
“I think it’s pretty impressive what they’ve managed to do,” she said.
She spoke about the key-entry system using fobs that allowed her to pick up her child from preschool. Her key fob only gave her access to Northview’s external door for the preschool area.
Each classroom now has a bolt to secure the door. Adjacent to the door is the new Lexan panel that has replaced the clear glass sidelight in each classroom.
Mr. Bacho said that instead of keys, administrators have key fobs for entry to exterior doors, with varying levels of access. He said the district’s system also could be programmed to allow entry only into certain internal segments of the school buildings, but that was a costly project.
Nancy Crandell, the district’s spokesman and the communications representative on the security team, added that unlike keys, the fobs allow access to doors to be changed as quickly as a phone call.
Another piece the district is working on is to ensure a blanket protocol is used when guests are allowed to enter the building. The district already uses a one-entry system, where visitors are only buzzed into the main office and sign in, notifying the office why they are on the premises.
The committee is reviewing ways to enhance the procedure, Mr. Nelson said.
A set of questions may be asked and the procedure could even have visitors show proof of identification.
Other areas of security are being devised in regards to social media, including teaching students digital citizenship and encouraging them to reach out to administrators in the case of threats.