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

(Continued)

Some parents have expressed concern about school safety, he said. One particular concern is the portable classrooms at the high school, where an outside door must be left unlocked because of the many students who need to enter throughout the school day, he said.

But doors to the classrooms inside the portables are locked when necessary, he said.

Another concern is the entryways to the schools because a front door at each is left unlocked for easy public access, he said.

Locking the front doors at Soule, Fisk and Haigh elementary schools would require major security upgrades so those doors could be locked with the push of a buzzer, Delahanty said.

It’s also difficult for staff to see who is coming through the front door from the main offices at those three aging schools, he said. They would improve under a $17 million renovation plan to be presented to voters in March, Delahanty said.

Residents voted not to renovate the three schools last year, despite supporting a proposal to upgrade the district’s three other elementary schools a year earlier.

Breen said he anticipates many parents at the forum will have general questions about safety and what their children should do in such situations.

He said he will explain basic procedures for students and staff, such as when to evacuate or when to hide, depending on the situation.

“The first thing is you want to protect yourself and those in your charge,” Breen said. “Between myself and Deputy Chief Patten, I hope we can allay some fears.”

Kilgus-Kramer said the forum will be a valuable opportunity for parents to voice their concerns. Some parents have told her the schools need bulletproof glass, she said.

She said she is most concerned about the need to renovate the three elementary schools and hopes improved safety features will be part of those plans.

“I think parents will be looking at that with those renovations,” she said. “I think the school district should do whatever it can to protect the students — every parent wants that.”

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