Cambria Heights approves security upgrades

PATTON — The Cambria Heights School District has approved plans for more than $30,000 in security upgrades at two of its three buildings.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the board agreed to have School Gate Guardian install man-trap style entranceways at the elementary and middle school buildings. The high school also will get security updates as part of an upcoming renovation.

“This is how we can keep our students safe in an unsafe world,” Superintendent Michael Strasser said.

Visitors will be required to pass through a first set of doors. The visitor’s driver’s license or official photo identification must be scanned through an automated detection system before gaining clearance to enter through a second set of doors, where they will then be required to sign in at the building’s main office.

A visitor’s pass will be printed out and provided to the visitor after scanning their photo identification.

If the visitor fails to submit photo identification, the door behind that person will lock, trapping the person between the two doors.

District Maintenance Director Drew Thomas said the automated system also will run a criminal background check on every visitor when they swipe their driver’s license, and if the visitor has a criminal record or is registered under Megan’s Law, the visitor will be unable to enter the building.

Thomas said the district also will limit who enters the building.

“We will have a service window for parents to drop off items for their children,” Thomas said. “A parent doesn’t need to enter the building if they only came to drop off their child’s homework.”

Additional security cameras are also being installed in all three buildings.

Security upgrades for the elementary school will cost the district $19,690, with costs for the middle school upgrades totaling $15,650.

The cost estimates for the high school security upgrades are being included with the building’s upcoming renovations and were not released.

The security upgrades for the elementary and middle schools are expected to be installed “in the next few weeks,” Strasser said.

“We treat our students as if they’re our own,” Strasser said. “Protecting the students is our No. 1 priority.”

Strasser said the district also requires any unknown individual to be reported.

“We train our staff to report any individual whom we cannot identify,” Strasser said.

On Dec. 23, the elementary school was locked down after an unidentified individual entered the building and did not sign in at the office area.

The individual went directly into a restroom, causing staff members to report the individual as a possible intruder.

After a room-by-room search of the building conducted by state police, along with analyzing surveillance footage, the individual was eventually found to be a high school student.

Strasser said the policy of reporting unidentified individuals was in place on

Dec. 23.

The district will also complete regular Alert, Lock­down, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate trainings for its faculty and will continue to hold monthly lockdown drills.

Parents will be notified via the schools text messaging system when each drill will take place, Strasser said.

Strasser also said that a Safe Schools Grant is currently being pursued to staff a school resource officer or security guard to patrol all three buildings.