FORT LUPTON — As the new school year commences, visitors to Fort Lupton schools will be greeted by new security measures installed over summer break.
The Weld Re-8 School District installed a new entry system at its schools that allows the main office at each location to see and speak with visitors through a camera system before the visitor is able to enter the hallways of the school.
Superintendent Mark Payler said the district heard an increase in parents’ concerns about school safety following the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But Payler added that the issue was on the minds of district officials before the Sandy Hook massacre.
“When we went to the public last November to pass the comprehensive bond package – obviously it was for the middle school, but all of our schools benefited from that – and one of our aspirations was to get to a district-wide security system that’s more digital in nature than a traditional key,” Payler said. “We know that there are a number of keys floating out there, and we think we have a good handle on it, but one never knows.”
Teachers and staff will now carry digital key pass cards, and if the key is lost, the district is able to deactivate that specific pass card without affecting the operation of other staff members’ keys.
“As recent as last spring, we conducted an annual climate survey with our parents and students, and with the parents, overwhelmingly, with those results it talked about we needed to work on security,” Payler said. “There’s a high consciousness of keeping kids safe. And that’s always been our priority.”
The district selected Stanley Security Solutions as one of the contractors tasked with installing the new entrance systems.
“We’ve contracted with Stanley, which is a leader in lock and electronic technology, to look at our buildings and recommend something that would be future-proof. In other words, we’re not just buying something that’s good for a couple years, then becomes obsolete down the road,” Payler said. “So, obviously, you’ve got some hardware side of things, but you have the software side of things, as well.”
Payler said the attention to the software side of security improvements allows the district to pursue an expansion of this year’s improvements to the entire building.
“We want to do what we’re doing at our main entrances for now across all of our entries a year from now,” Payler said. “But the idea is that we want to secure all of the other doors at our buildings, and have one main portal for parents and staff and everybody to go in. So we focused this year on our main entries.”
The buildings in the district already have double sets of doors, which gives the district an advantage for making security improvements.
“So you walk through one set, and there’s some type of foyer,” Payler said. “In the morning, when parents pull up, and they start to drop their kids off for school, both sets of doors at our buildings will be open. So they’ll be able to go in just like normal. But depending on the building, maybe 10 minutes after school has started, then we’re into a more secure situation.”
During these hours, between the peak traffic of students entering and leaving the building, the outer set of doors will remain unlocked, and the inner set of doors will be locked, unless the front office buzzes a visitor inside.
Once inside, a visitor will be required to display photo identification to front office staff.
“We’ll accept any form of photo ID,” Payler said. “If, as a last resort, they don’t have a photo ID, and they’re in our system, legitimately tied to one of our students in our Infinite Campus system, we would create an identification card for them. But that’s just as a last resort.”
Payler wanted to assure parents that the information taken from photo identification was not going to be used for any larger tracking effort.
“We’re not doing any background checks. People don’t need to worry about who else is getting my information. It’s only for us. And it’s only to keep our buildings secure,” Payler said. “We’re not sharing that information with anybody else.”
The district is getting the word out about the photo ID policy through the newsletters and at back-to-school nights for each of the schools.
Payler said emergency responders and district staff will have pass cards that can unlock the school entrances at any time. And no pass cards are needed by anyone in the building to use a door to exit the building at any time, Payler added.
“A year from now, we should be able to secure all of our buildings if we go into a lock-down,” Payler said. “And we won’t have to put someone at risk by sending them around to lock the doors manually.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.