The survey also shows that districts have room to improve their emergency communication programs. During a campus emergency, districts report utilizing intercom systems most often (48 percent) to convey information to faculty. Phone calls are also the preferred method for reaching parents in an emergency, at 54 percent. Only 1 percent of districts are considering mass notification systems like text alerts to cell phones.
"In an emergency, every moment is critical, and education is a late adopter of mass notification systems," Kirby said. "Mass notification systems allow districts to instantaneously reach out to any one of a number of pre-selected groups to disseminate information, from first-responders to faculty to parents. They are a tool that federal, state and local governments have embraced post-September 11, and the applications for education extend well beyond emergencies to improve overall school-to-home communication."
Call to Action
As half of all districts cite budget restraints as their primary barrier to improving security, the School Safety Index can help IT and security directors make the case for additional funding by helping district leaders understand the tools and resources that may prevent or mitigate security breaches, thereby lessening the long-term impact that a breach can have on a district. CDW-G also recommends that districts turn to peers and the vendor community to understand their options regarding new security technology and best practices.
Whether it is physical or cyber security, the threats that districts face will become increasingly sophisticated. With a solid framework, the right tools and proper planning, districts have the opportunity to prevent breaches and anticipate threats.
The CDW-G School Safety Index is based on a survey of 381 public school district IT and security directors. The survey was conducted online and by phone by Quality Education Data. The survey has a +/- 5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.