SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Metal detectors, bulletproof glass, exterior door alarms, armed security guards, a text tip line, panic buttons and more intruder drills.
Those are just some of the ideas to improve safety that have been suggested to Springfield Public Schools in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Superintendent John Jungmann said the ideas - and many others - will be considered as the state's largest district puts together a plan to improve student and employee safety in the 2018-19 year.
"We have to talk about those things," he said. "Our community expects us to, we expect ourselves to, because student safety is the No. 1 priority."
At the April 3 study session of the board, Jungmann gave an update on what options the district is considering to improve the safety of students and employees. "We believe this will lead to some budget recommendations that are coming very soon."
In recent weeks, the district sought feedback through an online survey and top officials attended a Central High School forum on gun violence, a March For Our Lives rally in downtown Springfield and walkouts at all high schools.
"We said we didn't want a knee-jerk reaction to anything," he told the board. "We waited to make sure we took time to hear from parents and kids and teachers and leaders and community members."
A two-page report to the board listed a wide range of potential changes in the following areas: identifying threats, controlling access, engaging students, training students and employees, supporting staff after an issue arises and upgrading facilities.
Board member Charles Taylor, who was present at many of the student-led events in mid-March, said the report reflected much of the input he heard.
"You captured a lot of the things our students have spoken with passion and insight and eloquence about in the past couple of weeks," he said.
Jungmann said more than 500 people responded to the survey, and results showed support was high for the district's school police force and all schools having secured main entrances with camera surveillance.
He said school police have a daily presence at middle and high schools, but there were parents who wanted officers - or armed security guards - at every elementary.
"People aren't necessarily afraid of having guns in the schools as long as it's trained professionals," he said. "They feel really good about our school police."
Erin Gray, the parent of a kindergarten student at Field Elementary, said not all schools have the "double" vestibule in the main entrance. It requires visitors to go through two secure doors before they enter the office or lobby.
"We've had a couple instances this school year," she said.
Jungmann noted the "new facilities all have double secured vestibules with an additional layer of protection," but not all of the older buildings have been renovated.
Other suggestions included adding panic buttons, bulletproof glass for main entrances, upgraded intercoms, more reliable cell coverage and security cameras and alarms at all exterior doors - not just the main entrance - to restrict access.
He said there was also interest in the "use of metal detectors or increased screening processes at the main entrances."
Several suggestions were made on how the district could better identify potential threats such as more active monitoring of social media, adding a text tip line and promoting the awareness of a 24/7 phone line to report school violence threats.
Of social media, Jungmann said: "We know that's a place where a lot of this manifests or you can get cues."
A lot of internal input appeared to center on training office staff and administration and increasing the frequency of "active shooter" or intruder drills.
Jungmann said the district wants to work with city officials to reduce the number of fire drills to free up time for other training. City ordinance requires a fire drill once a month at every site during the year.
"We fire drill more than anything else," he said.
Several ideas were offered to improve student engagement and a sense of belonging, including adding clubs and extracurricular programs, strengthening anti-bullying efforts and addressing mental health concerns.
The school board will have a retreat from 4-8 p.m. April 12 at the Discovery Center of Springfield.
Jungmann asked the board to review the suggested changes and identify priorities.
Board member Alina Lehnert said there was a lot of information to digest. "This is what the board asked of you, to go back and dig a little deeper."
(Story shared by Springfield News-Leader. Read the original article here.)
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