Port Board of Ed discusses keeping students safe

The+Port+Washington+Board+of+Education+listens+to+a+presentation+by+Assistant+Principal+Mr.+David+Miller+on+how+to+improve+the+district%27s+security.

www.theislandnow.com

The Port Washington Board of Education listens to a presentation by Assistant Principal Mr. David Miller on how to improve the district's security.

Sally Hirschwerk, Staff Writer

With the surge in school shootings over the past few decades, school districts across the country have been working to revamp their security system, and the Port Washington school district is no exception. 

According to members of the Port Board of Education, back in 2004, there was hardly anything being done to enforce strict security.  There were only a few uniformed guards from Nassau BOCES, along with a retired custodian serving as traffic patrol at the high school.  However, the guards were not adequately trained, and they were only located at the high school rather than all of the elementary schools.  In addition, the cameras were not high-quality and the images were of low resolution and were extremely blurry.  

Now, in 2018, the district has made incredible progress in improving its security.  Currently, there are a total of sixteen security guards patrolling the school, the majority of whom are former law enforcement officers.  Additionally, there is usually a guard stationed on campus during off-school hours.  Looking into the future, the Board of Ed. has plans to include a weekend night guard to patrol the campus.

“We have made great strides in district security in recent years, as evidenced by Mr. Miller’s recent presentation at a Board of Ed meeting,” said Board of Education member Mr. Dave Kerpen.  “Our staffing [former police officers] and our technology are amongst the highlights.”  

In addition, there is a keyless entry system located at all the schools.  All visitors must register electronically at the front desk.  This way, the school is aware of all visitors and unregistered visitors are prevented from freely roaming the halls. 

In the past, a major concern was the issue of a lack of cameras, but that it is quickly being fixed.  Twenty-eight new high tech cameras were recently installed, and the Board of Ed is looking to add one hundred more located indoors and outdoors.  The footage taken by these cameras can be stored on school and police department computers for up to a month.

“It is a major project and will be completed by next year,” said Mr. Kerpen.  

According to Assistant Principal Mr. David Miller, one of the biggest developments the BOE is looking to establish is a one-button lockdown system.  This button would have an instant connection to 911 and mobile devices.  Once pressed, and automated message would be triggered.  Strobe lights would appear at key locations inside and outside the school grounds, and computer screens would take over.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney explained that she hopes this new technology will be as unobtrusive as possible.

While Mr. Miller presented these techniques in a general presentation at the meeting a few weeks ago, how realistic they are and how long they will take to be implemented remain key questions.

 “The main obstacle, like many things, is money. But we have funded the best possible security system and I am extremely confident in future district security,” said Mr. Kerpen.  

Board of Ed members are not the only ones hoping for tightened security.  Students at the school as are aware of its importance, and there are mixed opinions on its effectiveness now. 

“When I was an underclassman and would go off campus, I was never carded, so maybe there is room for more attentiveness. If people can easily get out, how hard can it be for them to get in?” said senior Megan Bazzini.  

On the other hand, other students claim to feel perfectly safe coming to school at this point.  

“Although we have heard recently in the news a lot about school shootings, and there is an extremely slim possibility of it happening, I never really feel afraid going to school because I feel the district I live in is very safe,” said sophomore Kayla Hill.  

While our district has an efficient security standard, there is always room for improvement, and it is imperative that Schreiber has top-notch security so that the students are protected from any harm.