As area students return to school from winter break, some will notice new cameras or buzzers at the front entrances of their buildings.
Clark-Pleasant and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools are adding buzzers to the entrances of all buildings. The upgrades at Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson already were planned, but Clark-Pleasant decided to add the buzzers after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, interim Superintendent Becky Courtney-Knight said.
The additions are meant to give the schools more control over who can enter their buildings.
Here’s a look at some of the short- and long-term security upgrades local school districts are considering:
Short term: The school district announced at its board meeting last month it planned to immediately reinforce school entrances, possibly with cameras or buzzers.
Long term: The district is planning to begin comprehensive upgrades at all of its buildings in 2014, including more secure entrances and backup power for emergency communications.
Short term: The school district is adding buzzers to the entrances of all schools. Visitors will need to be buzzed in by the school’s office.
Long term: The school district is reviewing whether any additional changes to security procedures are needed.
Short term: The school district is adding buzzers to all of its entrances, which is a plan that was in place before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Superintendent Matt Prusiecki also plans to review security procedures such as evacuation and lockdown plans on a monthly basis.
Long term: Prusiecki is looking into whether armed guards are needed, and wanted, at any of Indian Creek’s buildings.
No immediate plans have been made, but Superintendent David Clendening is meeting routinely with administrators to review whether any changes are needed. Franklin also plans to have an open forum this month to discuss school security with the public.
Center Grove schools had planned to begin security upgrades in May 2014, including more secure entrances and playgrounds for each of its buildings and elementary schools and power for emergency communications. But after the Sandy Hook shooting, the school district announced it was immediately enhancing security at all school entrances, possibly with security cameras and buzzers.
No new security additions are planned for any of Franklin’s schools. But Superintendent David Clendening has been asking employees if changes are needed. Franklin also plans to conduct a forum this month so it can make a security presentation and answer questions from the public, Clendening said.
In the weeks since the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn., questions over school security have been raised across the country. Groups such as the National Rifle Association have called for schools to have armed guards in their buildings, and lawmakers in other states have raised the question of whether teachers or principals should be trained and expected to use firearms.
Immediately after the shootings, local superintendents met with principals to review security procedures and make any necessary changes. Clendening and Courtney-Knight said they have no interest in arming principals or teachers, but it will take months of research and discussion on whether adding guards at buildings is needed, they said.
A bill to be introduced at the Indiana General Assembly this session would help districts place police officers in local schools. The assistance would last for only two years, though.
As those decisions are made, schools will be regularly practicing and reviewing lockdown and evacuation plans, looking for any other changes that need to be made.
“I think we’re going to continue talking about safety from now until the end of education,” Clendening said.
Franklin has one school resource officer, an off-duty Franklin Police Department officer who is at the high school for about two hours every day and can be called to any other building if needed. Center Grove has its own police department with two officers who respond to calls.
Neither Clark-Pleasant nor Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson has a school resource officer.
Hiring and purchasing equipment for armed officers at all of Clark-Pleasant’s buildings could cost as much as $500,000, Courtney-Knight said. That’s an expense the school district can pay for if it has to, she said, but first administrators and the school board would need to research whether that investment would truly make students safer.
“It’s so complex. You can’t just make a decision quickly without looking at all the ramifications,” she said.
Superintendent Matt Prusiecki plans to begin investigating whether armed guards are needed or wanted at any Indian Creek school. That will involve talking to employees and residents before taking a recommendation to the school board, he said.
“It does come back to, it’s a local decision,” Prusiecki said. “So we want to get as much local input as possible and make a decision that serves our community.”
As schools research whether guards are needed, neither Franklin nor Clark-Pleasant has any interest in training or equipping teachers with firearms.
“Having teachers and principals worrying about a firearm when they’re worried about instruction ... I just think that that’s not something I can imagine,” Courtney-Knight said.