Canfield schools to beef up security

By Susan Tebben

Canfield schools’ plan to improve security has been in the works since before national tragedy again raised awareness about the safety of the buildings.

“The conversation started with parents discussing with us new security plans last summer,” said Superintendent Alex Geordan. “We’ve been working on this for a while.”

New security measures already have started appearing at Canfield Middle School in the form of another set of doors that leads every visitor to go through the office before they can enter the school hallways. For all schools, a buzz-in system is to be put in place by the end of January, Geordan said. The buzz-in system was approved by the school board long before the Newtown, Conn., school shootings and has been in the bidding process for companies to do the work ever since, according to business manager Rich Archer.

The buzz-in system is phase two of the project, which is being paid for with permanent improvement monies. The systems cost about $5,000 per school, according to Geordan, who met with a crisis-response team in the fall to discuss the new systems.

“It’s taxpayer money, and we think it’s a good way to spend the money,” Geordan said.

Also included in the security measures are camera systems at each entrance so office personnel can see who wants in. Emergency forms and files on all students are kept in the schools with alerts of any person not allowed access to the children.

Until the new systems are in place, and even after all measures are ready to go, school resource officer Steve Garstka and a rotation of Canfield police officers will patrol the school grounds and keep an increased awareness during and after school hours.

“We’re doing everything that we’ve done before in terms of communication,” Geordan said. “It all comes down to addressing issues with the youngsters and making sure they know they have people to go to when they need it.”

Geordan said he is confident his staff is approachable, and in times when anonymity is needed, the newly-implemented bully tip line is available for students and parents to report any possible harassment or trouble.

The school also is looking into a new evacuation plan for crisis situations, the “ALICE” system — which stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”

“Even if we don’t use the entire procedure, we’re discussing using a version of it in our schools,” Geordan said.

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