Only a few weeks after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Summit Hill School District 161 Board of Education discussed the district’s Safe Schools Program at a meeting Wednesday evening.
“It made it just more obvious that we need to put something more in place,” said Board President Mary Kenny, in a follow up interview with Patch.
Superintendent Barb Rains is currently in the process of collecting information, suggestions and parent input concerning school safety.
Rains met with the Tinley Park Police Department in December -- the same month that two escaped convicts were seen in Tinley Park and the father of three district students was charged with the murder of their mother.
She spoke with the police about the need for timely communication between the school district and police department, she said in an email to Patch.
The district will host two parent coffee meetings about school safety in the near future, during which parents will have the opportunity to share their suggestions for improving safety practices at Summit Hill.
The first meeting, for parents of students in grades K-4, will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 14 in the district office. The second will be for parents of older students and will take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, also at the district office.
The suggestions collected at these meetings will be evaluated for presentation at the district’s annual meeting with first responders on Jan. 17.
Kenny told Patch that the district is considering installing a second security buzzer in all school entry areas as an added precaution. Currently, visitors must be buzzed into the main office of any district building after entering through a vestibule. The proposed additional buzzer would require visitors to be approved for entry a second time before exiting the office and entering the portion of the school used by students.
The addition of a second buzzer in each school would not be expensive, Kenny said, because the security system is already installed in district buildings.
“Our ‘new normal’ has come,” said Rains, in reference to the district’s current school security measures.
Rains also addressed the district’s need for new emergency notification software at Wednesday’s meeting. She said that the district’s current software requires school administrators to send notifications from a computer, but that a new system could allow district officials to issue notifications via phone and to send messages to specific groups.
The new system would cost the district approximately $5,100.
“Our parents are demanding immediate communication,” said Rains. “Especially when we’re in an emergency situation.”
Get News Alerts and Facebook Updates From These Patch sites: