BROADALBIN - When students return to classes in the fall, they will notice new safety measures designed to prevent a tragedy like the Sandy Hook school shooting from occurring on a Broadalbin-Perth Central School District campus, officials said Monday.
The safety features were discussed at Monday's Board of Education meeting as part of the $2.1 million capital project approved by voters in February.
One feature students will notice is the buzz-in entry that will be installed at each of the main school entrances.
Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson talks about safety measures during Monday’s meeting of the Broadalbin-Perth school board. (The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher)
Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said the buzz-in entry will be required for all students and visitors coming onto any campus during school hours.
Tomlinson said this change will require some changes in the main offices throughout the district but he doesn't expect it will have to hire additional personnel.
"Right now, a secretary may get up and get mail in a different part of the office, but now there has always got to be somebody there [in the office to buzz people in]," Tomlinson said. "I don't believe right now we have to hire additional people; it is just shifting people around to make sure somebody is always there."
Office personnel will be able to see through glass doors whoever is seeking entry into the building. The changes will require office staff to be in the building at the start of the day at 7 a.m. to allow students into the building, Tomlinson said.
"It is going to cost us more money, but it will create a safer environment," Tomlinson said.
Buzz-in entry will not be required for events happening after school is dismissed.
Board Member William Boswell asked if there will be some type of policy the office staff will follow before allowing people access to the building. For instance, he said, on a busy day, what would prevent someone in the office from allowing someone dangerous into the building?
Tomlinson ensured the board that the office staff will know what to look for and be responsible to not let anyone in.
District Director of Operations and Safety Mike Carney said last year the front entrance was the only official entry point during the day. Visitors were required to sign in with their reason for being in the building. This will still be in effect.
Carney said faculty can access the building through alternate entry points using a swipe-card system records who enters the building at what time, but the district has set limits on who can enter which buildings. For instance, the employees at the district garage will not be able to enter the academic buildings with their swipe cards.
Tomlinson said the public may express concerns about the new entry system, but it is designed to ensure the safety of all the students.
The district held a safety forum for the community in January, and participants discussed what the district was already doing and what it could implement in the future to ensure students are safe. One of the ideas discussed was the buzz-in entry system.
District Treasurer and School Business Administrator Marco Zumbolo told the board each school office will have stations where security cameras will be viewable. A new camera will be installed outdoors facing the loading docks at the Perth site.
He also said the district will be installing two new DVR systems so that anyone with password-level access into the system can view any of the cameras from any location.
"That will be a big advantage to us, as well," Zumbolo said.
Carney said the Broadalbin Police Department and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office will conduct random walkthroughs in both the high school and middle school during the school year. He said the middle school will have a walkthrough twice a week, while the high school will have one daily.
Zumbolo said money left over when the capital project is completed could go toward other security features.
The capital project's primary focus will be to repair the roofing at the high school and the Perth building.
Carney said the district will have the roofing completed on all of the classroom buildings by the time classes start in the fall.
The district will use $1.65 million to replace the roof over a wing of the high school that includes the cafeteria, English, math, social studies and foreign language classrooms and on the main middle school building in Perth.
The last time these sections of roof were replaced was 1995, officials said.
A small portion of the project funds went toward districtwide wireless Internet access. The district has finished installing about 120 wireless Internet access points throughout its buildings, Zumbolo said.
He said there is some "tweaking" still left to be done, but generally the new network is up and running.
The project also will allow the district to acquire about 40 acres of land next to the middle school to use eventually for additional parking.
Levi Pascher can be reached at email@example.com.