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Monday, December 22, 2014
Schools boast increased security
A year after Sandy Hook, local district officials say they have new measures in place

In the year since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six staff members were killed, school officials in Franklin Square and Elmont have increased security and say they are taking a more cautious approach to visitors. All three superintendents of the local school districts — Franklin Square, Elmont and Sewanhaka — told the Herald that in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, there is now a much greater focus on safety in the schools.

Patrick Manley, superintendent of the Franklin Square School District — comprising the Washington Street, Polk Street and John Street Schools — said that district officials began planning new safety measures six months before the Connecticut shooting. In the summer of 2012, Manley said, they began working with the Morelly Center for Homeland Security, in Bethpage, and the first installation of new measures, ironically, took place last Dec. 13 — the day before the shooting.

The tragedy, he added, prompted the schools’ strategic partners to devise an even stronger security plan. “Once information from Newtown was available,” Manley said, “our partners reviewed our safety plans and provided specific recommendations to make our schools more secure.”

The measures included additional security cameras outside each of the district’s schools, and revamped procedures for entering each building, he said. Manley said he did not want to go into detail because doing so might compromise their effectiveness. “Our partners cautioned us about divulging too much information regarding our improvements and plans,” he said, “since privacy is an important component of a secure environment.”

Al Harper, superintendent of the Elmont School District — made up of the Gotham Avenue, Dutch Broadway, Covert Avenue, Stewart Manor, Alden Terrace and Clara H. Carlson schools — said that officials are taking a more cautious approach after school and on weekends.

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