John Venza, one of District 24’s security guards, looked over the new monitoring system at the William L. Buck School with principals, standing from left, Mark Onorato, Dr. Scott Comis and Rosario Iacono, before the Dec. 12 board meeting.
Howell Road School Principal Frank Huplosky showed off the new panic buttons during District 13’s building tour on Dec. 7.
Dec. 14 marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 26 children and adults died, and which brought school safety to the forefront of the national conversation.
Each of the four school districts in Valley Stream has taken steps to improve security over the past year, ranging from improved front-door procedures to adding more security cameras.
The Valley Stream Central High School District has four buildings. Each has four security guards on duty, as well as numerous cameras around the buildings. Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich said these measures were in place long before Sandy Hook. “I don’t want it to appear that what we did was reactionary,” he said, “because this is what we do.”
Shortly after the Connecticut tragedy, experts from BOCES and the Nassau County Police Department conducted a 215-point safety inspection in the district. Heidenreich said they were mostly complimentary of its security procedures, such as a single point of entry for visitors.
Some changes in the past year have included additional security cameras, and an overall heightened sense of vigilance among the staff. Heidenreich also noted that police officers regularly stop by the schools. “They’re making this more routine,” he said. “In that past, if you saw a police car outside of a school, you’d think, What happened?”
District 13, which includes four elementary schools, still makes visitors sign in at the main entrance, but also now requires them to leave photo identification with the greeter. Additional security cameras were added at each school, and the camera system was upgraded so it has the ability to record.
Meredith Brosnan, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said that more cameras are a possibility.
In District 24, two security guards have been added to patrol the perimeter of the three elementary schools on a rotating basis. Superintendent Dr. Edward Fale said that visitors who are not recognized are questioned before they even make it to the front door of a building.