Security a key factor at new Quaker Valley Middle School
Along with new classroom features and technology, Quaker Valley School District's $26.5 million middle school remodeling project included many security upgrades designed to keep children and adults safe, administrators said.
But with increased security measures comes a balancing act, Director of Administrative Services Joseph Marrone said.
“How much do you want to put into it until you become a Fort Knox or a prison, but how safe are the kids and employees?” Marrone said.
Security upgrades for the Sewickley middle school were approved long before a suspected gunman last month killed 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
The shooting prompted Quaker Valley board member Danielle Burnette to initiate discussions of safety upgrades across the district, she said.
Burnette said she is “concerned about our student's safety in light of recent events, and I know it's probably heavy on a lot of parent's hearts.”
School leaders expect to present new safety material as early as next month to board members, Superintendent Joseph Clapper said.
“There's been a lot of things on safety that have been going on over the last year and a half,” he said. “We're feeling really comfortable where we are with the plans.”
With new procedures, new alarms, more cameras and safer doors, learning how to use all of the security measures is a daunting task, Marrone said.
While discussing security features with the Sewickley Herald last week inside the middle school, six parents freely walked through the building — one said main office workers let him through without taking his name, another entered through a backdoor after a teacher let the parent in.
“The teacher must have just said, ‘Oh, someone's at the door, I'll just let them in,' and we're not supposed to,” Marrone said.
Four others were in a hallway near the school's gymnasium.
Marrone led parents to exits and asked for one parent to be escorted to the main office.
Even before students were welcomed into the building Jan. 7, school employees began learning how new safety procedures would be used, Marrone said.
“We have a lot of systems we're growing into instead of growing out of,” he said.
“It's just like anything else — there's a lot there,” Marrone said. “It's not a once and done. It's ongoing.”
Among the new features include the ability to deactivate an employee's ID if they do not swipe the card before leaving for the day, Marrone said.
Air quality controls also allow for administrators to limit air intake should a chemical spill occur nearby, he said. In classrooms, flipchart material was created to offer school employees a quick guide for a variety of emergencies — from bomb threats to a child being injured.
Despite the upgrades, Marrone said administrators received some “flak” for some of the security measures taken in the new building.
“It's normal,” he said.
School board member David Pusateri said he also wants to see substitute teachers — daily and long term — receive information to be prepared in the event of an emergency.
“We need to take a harder look at what we're doing with our substitutes,” he said. “How much do the substitutes know what the procedure is?”
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Bobby Cherry to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.