Campus security upgrades in works

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Florida State. Because of the frequency of violence on campuses in in recent years, school safety concerns have risen at a steady rate. Increasingly, schools don’t trust the integrity of their security and have responded by establishing more safety codes and stricter campus rules. So when students return to school next August, they will see a markedly changed campus culture.

“The board is going to require us to have the perimeter gates shut and secured once the schools day starts,”School Resource Officer Chuck Landmesser said.

The tentative plan is to have all safety codes and procedures installed during the summer. Changes could include a new traffic-flow pattern, fewer school entrances and more security on campus overall.

“All perimeters will be secured during the school day,” Landmesser said. “Students will still have access to the gate in front of the cafeteria. Over the summer, there will be a buzzer installed at the gate and a camera. It’s going to become the new entrance point.”

Landmesser said changes especially impact those arriving after the 8:30 a.m. bell sounds.

“When students are late, they will go over to the gate, and when they are seen on the camera, they will be buzzed in,” he said.

Landmesser said visitors — mainly parents — also will enter through the gate outside the cafeteria.

“This is going to limit accessibility,” he said. “Because at the moment, when parents park in the parking lot in front of the middle-schooler car loop, they have free access to the school from there.”

But those aren’t the only changes in the works.

“The main drop-off gate will still be open in the morning, but student traffic flow will be different,” Landmesser said. “Access to the media center might become more secured. The door that connects the school to the media center will be locked from the outside to make sure that everyone comes in through the front office. The same door will only be utilized for dismissal. This is all basically changing the student foot traffic.”

The primary goal is student safety.

“This isn’t happening just here,” Landmesser said. “These kinds of security measures are being installed throughout schools in the U.S. Also, it’s not as bad as we thought is was going to be. We thought there was going to be more fencing outside and everywhere else but it’s very limited changes as far as gates and fences.” 

Journalism teacher Mark Schledorn’s said the additional measures are worth the hassle.

“I think when it comes to security, in general, you have to agree to be inconvenienced,” he said. “It’s better to be inconvenienced than to have your safety compromised. Nobody more than I hates having to lock my door all day, but if it saves lives when a bad actor shows up, then it’s worth it.”

Schledorn said this isn’t the first time students and faculty has had to adjust to new traffic patterns.

“When they did away with buses and everybody had to start driving their kids to school here, there were a couple weeks of pain,” he said. “Then people got used to the change and everything ended up being fine, so I don’t foresee traffic changes being a huge problem.” 

By Sam Havkin