Bloomington schools consider sweeping security upgrades - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Bloomington schools consider sweeping security upgrades

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After a four-month safety and security study of the district, Bloomington Public Schools are considering a host of school safety improvements to prepare and respond to emergencies.

According to Rick Kaufman, director of community relations and emergency management, the plan that will head to the school board for a vote will increase the security of school buildings as well as early childhood family centers and support facilities.

Kaufman led the crisis response team to the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, when a pair of students killed 12 classmates and a teacher. 

"It's been 14 years since the Columbine tragedy," he said. "We've learned a tremendous amount."

Kaufman used what he learned to oversee the implementation of school safety and security review at the Colorado school, and Bloomington officials tapped him for his expertise. 

"Today, our schools are better prepared to prevent or mitigate school incidents, and to respond to emergencies. However, there is still no 100 percent guarantee that our schools will be violence-free," said Kaufman. "While there are no easy solutions, there are intelligent alternatives to reduce the risks to life and property."

The recommendations are as follows:

- Renovate all main entrances to funnel visitors into the office once school begins.
- Require visitors to check in using a computerized management system.
- Designate points of entry with electronic access cards and keypads.
- Upgrade all classroom doors to lock with keysets on the inside.
- Upgrade and install security cameras.
- Install manual alarm devices for emergency use.
- Train employees in accordance with the Incident Command System police use.
- Revise crisis plans to comply with the National Incident Management System.
- Improve and monitor traffic control to avoid vehicle crashes with pedestrians.


District officials also recommend establishing task forces to develop strategies to ensure safety at after-school programs and to review of mental health staffing in the district in order to better identify and intervene when students require care.

The district has also enlisted Paul McCullough, a certified emergency manager and 26-year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department, to conduct a formal security audit of each facility. Officials say valuable insights were provided in the process.

"We know the way law enforcement can respond to an emergency in 3 minutes at the most," Kaufman said.


December's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., prompted many districts to review their own security protocols. While district administrators believe more should be done to ensure student safety, the upgrades won't come cheap.

With state-of-the-art electronic controls and rebuilding entrances in mind, the district will need to spend millions of dollars to achieve the goals outlined in the overhaul.

Even so, students and parents told FOX 9 News the money would be well spent.

"It's high priority," said Jessica Smith. "Every kid should have the opportunity to go to school and feel safe. It's the No. 1 concern."

The Bloomington School Board is currently considering the recommendations and will vote on the matter on May 13.


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