Devoted to protecting its students and staff and determined to maintain a welcoming environment, Anoka-Hennepin School District administrators routinely review and evaluate security measures implemented in school buildings and on campuses throughout District 11.
As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, a school security review and recommendations report was delivered by Chief Operations Officer Chuck Holden and Director of Building and Grounds Steve Anderson to school board members at their Feb. 25 meeting.
Many security measures are already in place in District 11 schools – check-in/check-out procedures, security cameras, police liaison officers, etc. – but District 11 administrators vow to do all they can to increase that security.
In addition to those measures, schools already practice containment, lockdown and intruder lockdown drills as a routine part of school safety processes, Holden said.
While those drills are essential to assuring that students and staff can immediately respond to a threatening situation, Holden expressed the desire to maintain a comfortable atmosphere inside the schools.
“We don’t want it to be like a lockdown atmosphere, but we do want school children, teachers and staff to know without doubt they are safe,” said Holden.
In their report to school board members, Holden and Anderson gave an assurance that while regular reviews and evaluations continue to be conducted, new technology is being considered to boost security in the schools.
That technology includes:
• Keyless entry, with door scheduling, access monitoring, after-hours controls and a lockdown button in the main office.
• Closed-captioned television, which would provide a visual recording of events and would provide assistance to first responders, giving them “eyes into the building,” Holden said.
• Electronic check-in, which would provide a picture ID for visitors to the schools and could even conduct background checks on those visitors.
• Metal detectors, which would provide screening of visitors prior to entry into the building.
School-by-school perimeter security improvements (establishing keyless entry and installing vestibules in the schools) will occur beginning this spring and continuing through the summer months. Cost for those improvements will be taken from re-prioritized, already-budgeted capital improvement projects.
Another part of updating and improving Anoka-Hennepin’s security plan is incorporating post-Sandy Hook recommendations expected to come this summer from law enforcement and regulatory authorities (the departments of Public Safety, Education, Homeland Security, Secret Service, FBI and others).
Not only that, Holden said, the school district’s crisis plan is routinely reviewed and evaluated districtwide. Discussions with law enforcement and first responders are a regular part of that process and District 11 has “a very integrated system with our local law enforcement,” he said.
“We will never tire of assuring that students and staff are safe in Anoka-Hennepin schools,” Holden said.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]