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Mt. Pleasant district targets schools' security

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Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Area School District is taking steps to ensure the safety of its students.

The board has approved $50,000 in security system updates at the district's elementary schools and the administrative offices.

Directors were considering making the upgrades in the fall, but the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School drove directors and administration to move up the upgrades.

“We want to expand on the present system that we have,” Superintendent Terry Struble said.

“Our goal is with the elementary schools, to have the same type of cameras that we have in the secondary schools. We want internal cameras to cover the hallways and external cameras to cover the entrances.”

Struble said cameras can act as a deterrent for any harmful activity.

“If people know that they are there, it could result in a decrease in negative behavior,” he said.

Last year, a buzzer system was installed in the high school and elementary schools.

The district is not only focusing on adding more security, but is working with the students on how to handle a potential crisis.

Struble said the staff has been instructed to check to see if doors are kept locked at all times.

Staff and faculty in the elementary schools are working with the students on how they can help with security issues.

“The one thing that we do not want to create is a fearful environment for our children, but we are going to be working with Stranger Danger,” Struble said. “We have nice kids and if they see someone standing at one of the doors, they might just go and let them in. We want to make sure that they know not to do this. We also want our students to report any strangers that they may see in the hallways.”

The students will work with evacuation procedures similar to fire drills, and each building will handle its own procedures.

“We just want the students to know: This is what we do, this is how we handle it,” Struble said.

Letters were sent to district residents, informing them of changes in visiting and school access procedures.

Persons wishing to visit a school must make arrangements 24 hours in advance and, upon arrival, must register and present a form of identification.

Visitors may not confer with a student without the approval of the principal, and all visitors must have a valid reason for a visit, which can be revoked at the sole discretion of the building administrator. Any visitor not complying with the requirements of security will be asked to leave.

“We don't want the school environment to ever be one that is fearful for our students,” Struble stressed. “Being safe is being smart. We are working on different ways to create the safest environments that we can while also instructing our students on ways to keep them and their fellow students safe.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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