Central Cambria to step up security

EBENSBURG — The Central Cambria School District began preparations for a new and secure entrance­way at its Jackson Elementary School.

With the help of Eckles Architecture Engineering Inc., the district is seeking to improve the building’s entranceway to identify any individual who enters the school.

Superintendent Jason Moore said the new entrance is to protect students from potential intruders.

“We want to limit who is able to enter the building,” Moore said. “We can’t just allow free entrance into the rest of the school.”

Under current plans, visitors will be required to enter through a first set of doors and sign in at the main office before being allowed past a second set of locked doors.

A service window also will be installed, which will allow visitors to drop off an item off without entering the building.

“Parents don’t need to enter the building if they are only dropping something off,” Board Vice President Thomas Woods said.

Moore said the need for security modifications presented itself after a false-alarm intruder incident at the nearby Cambria Heights School District.

In December, the Cambria Heights Elementary School went into lockdown after reports of an unidentified intruder entering the building.

After a room-to-room search was conducted by police, the intruder was found to be a high school student who entered the building to use the restroom and posed no threat to the district.

“It’s just necessary that we do this,” Moore said. “We have to do what we can to be safe.”

Middle School Principal Chris Santini proposed that the board approve the purchase of a new software that could identify possible sex offenders, which would cost the district $7,000 to install.

The software, which Santini recommended purchasing through Raptor Technologies LLC, would require every visitor to swipe a driver’s license through a sensor.

The software would then run a state background check and national sex offender check on the individual to “disallow any potential threat.”

Santini said the Hollidays­burg Area and Richland school districts currently use technology like Raptor.

Cambria Heights is also in the process of installing security software in two of its three buildings.

“Anything we can do to make things as safe as possible is needed,” Santini said.

Board members welcomed the idea of security software but turned down Santini’s recommendation due to “insufficient information.”

“This is still a great idea,” Woods said. “We need to look at all of our options and see what we can do to make it even safer.”

Woods said the board will discuss more improvements at its safety committee meeting later this month.

The safety committee will also explore potentially adding metal detectors and bulletproof glass.

Woods said a report from the safety committee will be read at the board’s April meeting.