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December 31, 2012

Police continue school bus patrols after BB shootings

More school security improvements coming

HAVERHILL — When school resumes Wednesday, officials said police will continue to patrol school bus routes in the wake of the Dec. 20 incidents in which someone fired BBs at two buses.

The school bus shootings occurred six days after the massacre at Newtown, Conn., in which 20 young children and six adults were shot and killed by a 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Connecticut tragedy has also focused new attention on the Haverhill school district’s plan to eventually install “enhanced security and monitoring equipment” at every school in the district, said Superintendent James Scully said. He said studies and preliminary work has laid the foundation for installing cameras and other monitoring devices at all the city’s middle and elementary schools. Similar monitoring equipment was recently installed at the high school, he said.

It is expected to cost between $40,000 and $80,000 per middle school and about $50,000 per elementary school to install the equipment, Scully said.

“The equipment will allow us to monitor children both inside and outside the buildings, and especially in the gyms and cafeterias,” he said. “Security at the high school is very good, but it could be improved. It will eventually be up to the School Committee down the line to decided how much more we can do.”

Scully said the district is also tightening its security rules, including making sure identification checks are done all adults entering schools.

The BB shootings shattered windows of two buses and sprayed glass on young children and teenagers.

“There will be an increased police presence until we come up with better strategies for dealing with security on buses,” Scully said.

Scully said he has had daily discussions with police Chief Alan DeNaro since the incidents and that the chief has offered whatever support school officials have requested. One bus was filled with 4- and 5-year-olds and the other with students from Haverhill High School.

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