Valley Stream schools boost security plans

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Inside, the front door monitors have received security training and now have computers to log visitors in and scan their driver’s licenses. They also must verify visitors’ reason for being at the school before letting them inside. More cameras have been added, particularly in the hallways, bringing the total to 20 in each building. Existing cameras were upgraded to offer a clearer picture and wider view.

William L. Buck School Principal Mark Onorato said that visitors have been receptive to the changes. “Everyone understands it,” he said. “They want their kids safe.”

Onorato added that while the changes have not affected the day-to-day operations of the schools, the staff knows to look out for any suspicious activity, such as an unknown person in the hallways without a visitor’s badge.

“Anytime we can upgrade our safety in a school building, that is paramount,” Onorato said. “That is the first thing a principal thinks about when he or she first walks in.”

Improved safety and communication

In District 30, new doors have been installed in the gymnasiums and cafeterias at each of the three schools. The old doors did not lock and had large windows, preventing the use of those spaces as a secure location for students.

Now the doors have locks and have limited window space, leaving large blind spots and creating safe areas that are out of the view of an intruder looking in. A new phone system was installed over the summer to provide better communication in an emergency. For example, the superintendent can now, from his office, make an announcement at all three schools if there is a threat. Teachers can call the police from their classrooms.

The district is looking to enhance its current security camera system. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about cameras, the pros and cons,” said Lisa Rutkoske, the assistant superintendent for business.

District 30 officials are also planning to replace the individual classroom doors and locks to provide better security.

Nassau County is expected to provide districts with panic buttons for each school that would alert authorities in an emergency. District 13 has already purchased two of its own for each building.
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