POMONA — Recent school shootings in the United States have brought heightened expectations for school safety, Dotson Bradbury said.
To help meet those expectations, the West Franklin school board agreed Monday to purchase new security equipment for the district’s Williamsburg, Appanoose and Pomona campuses, Bradbury, school superintendent said.
“We’re a rural area, so it’s a case of everyone almost knows everyone,” he said. “The secretary’s going to know who they are 99 times out of 100, but in that one instance where it’s someone they don’t know, the secretary will have that conversation with that person about what they want into the building for and who do you need to see.”
The new security system, which will be paid for using the district’s general fund, is expected to include a monitor at the secretary’s desks at Williamsburg and Appanoose elementary schools, so the secretaries will be able to see all visitors. The monitors also will record the entry of all visitors. A buzzer system to allow controlled entrance to the buildings also is planned, Bradbury said. All visitors will have to go through a main entrance where they will speak to a secretary and explain their need for entry before potentially being buzzed in.
At the Pomona campus, which includes West Franklin High School and Middle School, security cameras are planned at each of the six main entrances to record the comings and goings, but there won’t be a buzzer system, Bradbury said.
“The reason [for not having a buzzer system] is it would require us to hire an additional person for each one of those buildings to buzz people in and out,” Bradbury said. “It will simply be that we will have a recording for the middle school and the two high school buildings.”
With high-profile school shootings and intrusions becoming more frequent across the country, many schools have adopted new drills to practice in the event an intrusion takes place. West Franklin is no different, Bradbury said.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has evaluated the district’s security and been present during drills, he said, as well as provided information on how to better provide for the safety and well-being of the schools’ students.
The district’s June 4 bond election could help resolve a remaining security concern, Bradbury said. Successful passage of the bond could help shore up unsecured spaces on West Franklin’s Pomona campus where students are traveling back and forth between buildings, he said.
“We continue to look for ways to make sure our students are secure,” Bradbury said. “One of the caveats of the bond issue, if that is passed by the voters, is that once a child enters a building, they can go anywhere in the complex and not have to go outside again. Whether it be elementary, middle school or high school students.”