In the age of social media threats and frequent drills to prepare for an active shooter, school districts have been improving security.
Lake Fenton Community Schools
Superintendent Julie Williams said the district hired a school resource officer (SRO) in April 2018, added security cameras to all the buildings and outdoor facilities, and remodeled entrances at Torrey Hill Intermediate School and Lake Fenton High School.
Teachers in K-5 classrooms have emergency buckets. The district also had a comprehensive threat assessment completed, and all staff and students are A.L.I.C.E. trained. A.L.I.C.E. stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
“We do currently have secured entrances at each building, but these will be updated with our new access control system,” she said. They will install a new access control system and better cameras in various locations in the district this fall.
Funding for security comes from a variety of sources. This includes the Michigan State Police School Safety Grant ($177,073); bonds and sinking
fund dollars voted on by residents in the last few years; the Shamrocks and Safety Gala held last spring; and general fund dollars to cover the expenses of the SRO.
Fenton Area Public Schools
Superintendent Adam Hartley said they have “buzz in” technology at all the buildings, including the administration and transportation buildings.
“We continue to train staff with the help of our School Resource Officer, Officer (Tom) Cole, and the Fenton Police Department on proper safety protocols when it comes to allowing people to enter our buildings during school hours,” he said.
FAPS is an A.L.I.C.E.- certified school district, and they train staff and students accordingly. The district received $96,736 from the Michigan State Police School Safety Grant, which was used to place more cameras in K-5 buildings and on the Ellen Street campus this year.
“Officer Cole meets with the appropriate personnel on a weekly basis and is part of our district safety team,” he said. “The key word we use in FAPS is ‘proactive.’ We continue to run through threat assessments at each building and identify areas we can improve proactive security measures, such as adding security cameras and training our staff on ‘look for’s.’”
Hartley added the goal is to “empower” the school community, understand red flags, and react if needed.
“Between the training in A.L.I.C.E. and our partnership with the Fenton Police Department, we have a progressive approach to school safety and make sure we are never complacent,” he said.
Linden Community Schools
All schools at Linden have a dedicated entrance with a buzzer and video system, said Superintendent Russ Ciesielski.
“Once a visitor is verified the entrance door is unlocked and the visitor can enter and proceed to the front office,” he said.
LCS and the Argentine Township Police Department have a partnership to provide the district with an SRO.
“We are also very fortunate to have a working relationship with the Linden Police Department. At any given time we have two police departments covering down on district school buildings, patrolling our campuses, and working with our students and parents,” he said.
In 2018, LCS received approximately $138,000 from the Michigan State Police School Safety Grant, which went toward installing amplifiers in all the buildings. These allow first responders to communicate within the buildings without frequency interference. The grant also funded upgraded building public address systems, which allow all the classrooms to access and communicate through the PA systems.
“Every year, emergency protocols are reviewed and implemented. Each building is required to conduct emergency drills, and each classroom is equipped with emergency procedures. Last school year, Linden Community Schools adopted A.L.I.C.E. protection protocols,” he said.
Holly Area Schools
Superintendent Scott Roper said, “At Holly Area Schools, safety is our number one priority. With that in mind, we began or completed a series of safety improvements over the summer, including those made possible by the 2018 bond and routine projects in preparation for the 2019-2020 school year.”
Over the summer, the district began planning to make entrances more secure. Site work is expected to take place the summer of 2020 at Davisburg and Rose Pioneer elementary schools.
“Design work will begin in early winter for summer 2021 safety projects at Holly and Patterson elementary schools,” he said.
The district partnered with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 28 to provide school security training to more than 400 faculty and staff members. The daylong training was part of the new district-wide security initiative.
Faculty and staff learned how to respond in several school security scenarios during the training led by sheriff’s deputies, which included simulation drills based on A.L.I.C.E.
“The safety of our students, families, faculty and staff is our number one priority at Holly Area Schools, and we thank the Sheriff’s Office for providing this critical training,” said Roper. “Our A.L.I.C.E. training event was the first of many ongoing efforts to ensure our schools are safe before and after the school bell rings.”