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School Board moves to action on security issues

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local

During the WBR regular School Board meeting for March, the board heard a prepared report on school visits that were made by Superintendent David Corona and WBR Sheriff Major Jerome Fontenot last month relative to security within the schools.

The report, prepared by Corona, who was not able to attend the meeting due to the birth of his third grandchild, indicated that several things about each school site were noted that could increase school security, and measures would be taken to assure that each site would be as safe as possible.

In the report, Corona said that, generally, the key areas of security that should be dealt with are:

• Single Point Entry

He noted that schools should generally have a single entry point. He wrote, though, that several schools in WBR cannot practically have a single point of entry due to the set-up of the facilities.

“Those schools are Devall, Port Allen High School, Brusly High School, and Brusly Middle School. So they’re going to be supported with additional cameras that will be set up at those sites,” he wrote.

• Cameras that have a monitored perimeter of all the schools.

“With these cameras, there would then be a large screen, or screens… divided into sections to see all sections that were monitored by these additional cameras that would be located in the office area, principal’s office, or anywhere else that was deemed necessary,” Corona wrote.

Fontenot, who was on hand to speak at the school board meeting, said that he recommended installing a system that was compatible with iPads and other mobile devices so principals and others with access would be able to see what was happening on their school’s campus any time of the day from anywhere, including time spent off campus.

“I didn’t realize that…you, as school board members have issued (all school principals and assistant principals), assigned them iPads. Our recommendation, if the board elects to go to the camera systems, is to get a DVR system that is smartphone/iPad capable,” Fontenot said. “The principals can view their individual complex on their iPad while they’re walking around the complex. And we’re also recommending off-site viewing, because if there was an incident at the school, we could start working the incident before we actually get there.

“We’re recommending that control through that be done strictly through the school board system.”

• Panic Buttons to be installed.

Corona said that he wanted to look into installing a certain number, likely between two and four, of carefully placed panic buttons that would automatically call 9-1-1 when pressed in case of an emergency situation.

Fontenot said he recommended that if the school board elected to take that install panic buttons, there should be a dedicated telephone line for the button. He also said that if the board elected to install the buttons, Deano Moran of WBR Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparation, should be involved as well.

“If the school board elected to do that process, you would need to bring Deano Moran in because he’s the director of the 9-1-1 center and the dispatch center,” Fontenot said. “He can prepare his people so if they answer the phone, and they have a recording that says “this is Brusly High School, we have an incident,” they know, themselves, the process.

• Classroom doors should be locked at all times.

• All buildings on a school’s campus should be labeled.

Corona wrote that it would be up to the schools’ principals to decide how they would label the buildings on campus for easier identification, but that labeling all buildings on a campus will help officials identify a building if a problem were to occur.

“If there was a call made to a police department, sheriff department, etc., they would have a map of the school and they would know which building was having the difficulty,” he explained.

Annette Mire, WBR Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, said that labeling buildings on a school’s campus is something that can be done immediately and cost effectively.

“Buildings need to be labeled. I think that’s something that’s not very difficult to do and it needs to be done and we can do that immediately without a big expense,” she said.

Sharon Lair, Associate Superintendent of Instruction, agreed, sayng “I think it will definitely help with a fast response by having those buildings labeled and that floor plan of the buildings, a blueprint, so that when they know that there’s an issue and somebody says it’s going to be in whatever building, they’ll know immediately how to access and assess the situation in going in.”

Corona asked the board to consider adopting a resolution allowing him to create Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for vendors to

1.            evaluate the number of cameras needed at each campus, with needed hardware and large screens, and

2.            panic buttons connected to phone lines that will automatically dial 9-1-1 when pressed then deliver a recorded message, and

3.            provide cost per camera, etc.

Jeff Kershaw, supervisor of maintenance, said that he and Corona are prepared to develop RFPs to send out and get a company to come in, along with the WBR Sheriff’s Office, to explain what they believe the school system’s needs may be.

“When we send the RFP out, it will come back with a cost, and we’ll bring that back to you and you all will decide,” Kershaw said.

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