EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 10, 2013

Salem officials focus on improving school security

Residents encouraged to present ideas and questions at forum

SALEM — Resident Sherry Kilgus-Kramer said she thinks about the potential for school violence nearly every time her two children get onto the school bus.

She and other parents know a tragic situation, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, could happen anywhere — even in Salem.

“You just never know where it’s going to happen,” said Kilgus-Kramer, president of the advocacy group Strengthen Our Schools.

That’s why local school officials have scheduled a public forum for 7 p.m. Monday at Salem High School.

The forum’s purpose is to explain school emergency procedures to parents and receive public input on how security can be improved at the town’s eight public schools, according to Superintendent Michael Delahanty.

“From my perspective, this is very important for the community,” Delahanty said. “Parents will have the opportunity to express concerns about our current procedures and share ideas.”

School officials will speak, as will Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten and fire Chief Kevin Breen, who also is the town’s emergency management director. School Resource Officer Matt Norcross will participate as well.

But the key is school district and town officials listening to what residents have to say and deciding from there what can done to make the schools safer, Delahanty said.

Concern has been heightened since the Sandy Hook incident Dec. 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then killed 20 young children and six others at the Newtown, Conn., school.

Delahanty said the school district routinely conducts drills, including school lockdowns, to make sure all students and staff know what to do in an emergency. But, he said, tragedies such as the Sandy Hook shootings cannot be prevented.

“The way I see it, we were very prepared to respond,” he said.

There are three school resource officers working in the district’s eight schools.

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