Undoubtedly, among the most pressing of needs identified by the Navasota ISD Facilities Planning Advisory Committee, the need to increase our ability to keep our youth safe inside our schools takes center stage. The Planning Advisory Committee, made up of about 50 individuals representing all walks of the community, placed Safety and Security at the top of the needs list and never let it slide as the process continued.
That leads to the question, “What things can and should be done to keep our kids safe?” Answers to this question are numerous, but two major areas should be addressed: Controlling access to the interior of the school buildings and having the ability to monitor what is going on inside those buildings.
Controlling access to the building interiors is done primarily in two ways. First, Secure Vestibules, which allow for proper identification of visitors before permitting entrance into the main part of the building, need to be in place. Each campus should have, at its main entrance, an entry area where campus staff can greet visitors, check identification, and verify the need for access, before allowing the visitor to pass through a locked door into the main part of the building. Having all other exterior doors remain locked funnels all visitors to this main entrance to gain entry.
Another key issue in access control is the use of key systems that both control access and protect from intrusion. Whether electronic access control systems or more traditional key systems are to be used has not been determined, but the need to replace our current keyed system is a high priority. After many years of using the same system, there is no way to determine the exact number of keys that presently exist or who has them. One of the biggest benefits of electronic access is that entry can be controlled for every door in a building since each can be opened only by someone that has been authorized to open that particular door through their unique key card number. In reverse, access can immediately be taken away, when the need arises, by using the control software and deleting the individual’s access. In addition, total lockdowns can be completed instantaneously.
Video surveillance monitoring proves over and over again to be an effective tool both in preventing negative occurrences and in providing information about events after they happen. New technology allows for almost complete coverage of common areas (hallways, cafeterias, gyms, parking lots, libraries). Digital cameras have a much greater resolution that allows for zooming in to acquire easily identifiable facial information, and they are motion controlled to provide alerts of entry to an area that should be secure.
These, as well as other Safety and Security measures, will surely remain at the top of the list should the district obtain the necessary funding to make improvements. The importance of implementing Safety and Security measures to protect our students is too important to parents, the administration, school board, and the Facilities Planning Advisory Committee to ignore.