School districts around the country have been slashing their budgets due to the struggling economy. School business/operations managers have been frugal with their capital expenditures. When it comes to security, many of these decision makers have reduced spending at the elementary school level. There is a misconception that the older children at the middle and high school levels need more security than lower age groups. Many people do not understand the dangers elementary students face today. Younger children are more susceptible to kidnappings, child pedophiles and bullying than older, more mature students.
"Security in the elementary levels of our education system has been overlooked far too long," said Timothy Dimoff, president of SACS Consulting and Investigative Services Inc., Akron, Ohio. "There are several areas of concern. We have the opportunity to lay the foundation with our younger generation to start thinking safety and security in a more meaningful and effective manner," he said.
There are necessary security improvements every elementary school can accomplish, even on a shoestring. Simple as it may sound, the first is to make sure all entry/exit doors are locked and secure. There should be one point of access for all parents and visitors that leads directly to the main office. This door should be equipped with an access control reader or keypad, color surveillance camera and two-way intercom to verify who the person is and what their intentions are. Adding an access control reader/keypad and surveillance camera at the teacher's entrance/exit door and providing each with an access card or keypad number so they can securely access the building throughout the day is another way to beef up security at these premises.
Protecting the playground and outside
Elementary schools with larger budgets should add surveillance cameras at entry/exit doors, hallways, outside restroom entry/exits, bus parking and playground areas. Many integrators don't realize the importance of playground security coverage, but it is one of the most important areas to cover at an elementary school because it's open to outsiders. Playgrounds are a breeding ground for bullying, vandalism and child predators.
If you're an integrator or dealer, the importance of security at the elementary school level needs to be explained to the decision makers at a school district. These often include the superintendant, business manager, operations manager, maintenance and the principal of the elementary school. Protecting our students, no matter what the age, should be our top priority.
Mickey Lavery is a security specialist with Pinnacle Door Services Inc., Kent, Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.