Schools Exploring Improving Security
A new card access system is among the measures discussed.
Westborough school officials are exploring several new school security measures, including using a card access system district-wide.
The web-based system would give the school department “full access and control” over the schools, and allow officials to “shut off certain zones,” Director of Buildings and Grounds Brian Schlegel told the school committee Wednesday night.
“We’re doing many more things, but due to security, we’re unable to disclose all of the things that we’re doing,” Superintendent Marianne O’Connor said.
Westborough Police Officer Chip Dapolite, the school resource officer, said he talks to his counterparts in other communities, and “Westborough is way ahead of the curve on school safety.”
Dapolite said he was trained in a new program in November. Then, the Newtown, Conn. school shooting happened.
The program “gives the teachers more options. It gives them instead of having a static response to a dynamic situation, a dynamic response to a dynamic situation,” he said.
Schlegel and O’Connor noted several school security measures that Westborough has discussed.
Schlegel said the list includes “additional video monitors for the community ed department” for the afternoons, when the schools are more open. Community education staff would then “buzz the parents in as parents get their children,” he said.
Schlegel said he also has spoken with the evening custodians, “making sure that things are properly locked up.”
Groups often use the schools after hours, and one option is to “only have certain doors open for these particular groups, making sure (the custodians are) vigilantly keeping an eye on who’s in the facility,” he said.
“The principals do a great job keeping the schools secure during the day,” he said.
Schegel said he is exploring federal and state grant programs for the security changes.
O’Connor said she and the principals are “looking at the drop off and pickup at some of the schools.”
She said they’ve also discussed a district-wide system for “different colored visitors passes.”
A blue pass might identify someone as a visitor, she said. Substitute teachers might have orange passes,
“When you’re walking down the hall, you want folks to stop if you don’t recognize someone,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor noted that she and Police Chief Alan Gordon live in town.
“What’s so important is we know the people in this community,” she said.
“We know the kids. We have earmarked certain kids that we do follow, some young adults in our community that we’re well aware of and in constant communication about their whereabouts.”