EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 23, 2013

School security back to normal

Area school districts opening in the coming weeks have not made substantial changes to their security measures over the summer, with superintendents saying they were satisfied with their security following the Newtown, Conn., shooting in December.

Some security plans have been tweaked, but many visible security changes that are happening are part of construction plans that predated the tragedy. Haverhill and Lawrence have beefed up some security hardware, such as cameras and buzzers at the doors, as part of ongoing renovation projects at various schools.

Area districts do a lot of the same things, including performing drills, working with police officials, reviewing evacuation and emergency protocols, locking doors that use buzzers for admission and assigning police officers to the schools.

Overall, superintendents said they were comfortable with school security.

“We’re satisfied with our security protocol as they are,” said Haverhill Superintendent of Schools James Scully. “I’ve been here three years now. My first two and a half years, we updated security throughout the system, with cameras, all doors secured, etc. We are working in conjunction with the police department to continually enhance all of our security protocols.”

Scully said the high school, which just underwent a $32 million renovation project, is “covered with cameras.” The middle school, which has some cameras, will receive more. Additionally, Haverhill has school resource officers assigned to several of its upper schools.

Lawrence also has upgraded its security system as part of ongoing renovations and construction, and was part of superintendent/receiver Jeffrey Riley’s turnaround plan.

Lawrence schools have 36 full-time unarmed safety officers distributed through the schools with an officer stationed daily in all but five of the city’s 32 schools. Those five schools are in close proximity to schools with an officer. There are also three Lawrence Police Officers dedicated full time to the district, and one half-time. They are based at the high school campus, with one working full time at the high school and the remaining officers floating throughout the district as needed.

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