The Brookfield Public School District has, for many years, recognized the need to insure the safety and security of the districts schools so that our students can thrive without concern for their physical well being. Threats to public and prominent corporate buildings have been realized from both American and international terrorists as evidenced in the attacks on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and New York City's World Trade Center. Another legitimate safety threat is that posed by members within a school community. Columbine High School and Virginia Tech exemplify the reality of this threat to student and staff safety.
As we are all very aware, on December 14, 2012, a horrible tragedy occurred in Newtown, CT with twenty young students and six staff members being senselessly murdered in a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a twenty year old town resident. This event has deeply affected communities all across the country and the world and has elevated school security concerns to the highest priority.
At the December 19, 2012 Board of Education meeting, the Board voted unanimously to authorize the administration to move forward on making the security improvements based on the plan that was presented at that meeting.
Subsequently, the district engaged the services of Mr. Richard Zucchi, the father of a Brookfield resident who is also a retired Secret Service security expert and former security director for several major US corporations and Brookfield's Chief of Police Robin Montgomery, who is also a retired FBI Agent, to review our security plans and to provide advice and direction. Additionally, Major Jay Purcell and Gary Gramling, Youth Officer of the Brookfield Police Department have also been consulted and have provided input into the development of this plan.
Regarding immediate actions, the consensus was that the best approach to initiating the process of creating a safe and secure school environment is to move as quickly as possible to proactively control access to our buildings and to harden potential targets in the most effective way possible.
It is very important to note that even at no time will any security measure compromise fire safety. With more than 3,500 students, staff, parents and visitors in our buildings on any given school day, fire remains the largest and most serious safety threat on a daily basis. All building security modifications will be made in compliance with state and local building and fire codes.
The school security plan, which has been developed plan collaboratively by school administration, town boards, the police department and experts in the security field, will:
- Enhance the security of our schools on an incremental basis
- Leverage exiting systems and equipment wherever possible
- Enhance communications within schools, between schools, with the town's emergency services utilizing multiple technologies and with the community
- Enhance access control systems and procedures in all buildings
- Enhance interior physical building security
- Improve student and staff safety, plans, polices and procedures
To accomplish the goals of the school security plan, three primary areas of focus have been identified. These areas Communications, Access Control and Student & Staff Safety, represent the district layered approach to securing our buildings. The steps the district will take in each of these areas are detailed in the following sections.
The ability for district and building administration to communicate with each other and with emergency services personnel is a critical component of any security plan. In an emergency situation and under the coordination of the Superintendent, district and building administration are in immediate and continual contact with the Brookfield Police Department with whom the district has an extremely collaborative relationship. Communications can and will take place utilizing the multiple technologies and capabilities that are at our disposal:
- Communications with the Police Department are being significantly enhanced.
- All schools will have a sufficient number of Kenwood portable radios to ensure student and staff safety/security on a daily basis.
Emergency Alert Buttons
- All schools and the district's central office will have multiple emergency alert buttons installed in strategic locations
Video Surveillance Cameras
- Video surveillance is a passive form of building security and is reactive, or after the fact, in nature. However, the availability of video surveillance augments the district's access control and, it will be a key part of the district overall security plan.
Access control is the district's highest immediate priority and as indicated at the December 19, 2012, Board of Education meeting, and the district will be taking a consistent approach to effectively controlling access to all of our schools. Guidelines for school access control are noted below:
- All schools will have video/voice interactive buzz-in systems installed on outside main entrance doors.
- All schools will have a secure vestibule area into which parents/visitors will be admitted.
- All schools will have a security window into the Main Office.
- All schools will have a second set of secure doors into the school.
- Main office doors will be kept locked at all.
- All schools will have card access door control systems installed for staff access.
- 3M Security Film will be installed in strategic locations in all buildings.
- All vendor deliveries, food service deliveries, contractor visits, etc. will be coordinated through the Main Office of each building.
Student & Staff Security
To ensure the safety and security of our students and staff at all times while they are in our buildings, the following enhancements will be implemented.
- All classrooms and offices will have working security blinds in place.
- All classroom and office doors at Center Elementary School, Huckleberry Hill Elementary School and Whisconier Middle School will have upgraded locksets installed.
- Security gates blocking access to the rear of all schools will be installed.
- All staff will be trained on proper use the intercom system and paging capabilities.
- All schools will review, test and modify all lockdown, shelter in place and building evacuation procedures.
Full implementation of this plan will significantly enhance the level of school security and safety for our students, their families and staff. At the same time, it will also require a significant capital investment to complete all work noted. In keeping with the incremental approach of the plan, these expenditures have been broken into three phases:
Immediate and significant enhancement of the building access control
Enhancement of internal building communications and safety
Expanded video surveillance and grounds security
On Monday, January 7, 2013, district administration received approval to move forward with Phase I. All Phase I work is slated to be completed by February 28, 2013.
Securing funding for Phase II and II items in a timely manner is critical. The Superintendent, the Director of Finance, Technology and Operations will meet with the Board of Selectmen to determine how to secure the funding needed to complete Phases II and III.
The preceding was first published in the March 2013 issue of Brookfield Conversations, the Brookfield Public Schools newsletter.