Kent schools consider cameras, other security upgrades

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

Buildings in the Kent City School district could see multiple security upgrades in the future depending on whether the changes are supported by the Kent Board of Education and the community, Superintendent Joe Giancola said Tuesday.

Giancola said a steering committee of parents and administrators, following up on a recent survey reviewing residents' satisfaction with the district, has discussed the possibility of adding digital cameras to all exterior doors, hallways and cafeterias at school buildings in the district, which can be viewed on monitors in a central location.

The installation of those cameras, which Giancola said would constitute a "significant investment" by the district, will be discussed at community forums in September and October, along with other district-wide issues.

"As a board and as an administrative team, we will do whatever the community asks us," Giancola said.

The committee has also discussed installing a security room at Stanton Middle School or Theodore Roosevelt High School where the digital video feeds could be monitored, hiring a school resource officer from the Kent Police Department who would monitor the feeds and respond to emergency situations and replacing glass on the doors of all school buildings with shatter-proof material.

"I think we could secure the glass better so you can't blast through the doors," Giancola said.

If the community voices support for these measures, it will be up to the Kent Board of Education to approve or reject them, and then decide how to pay for them.

Giancola said the district has only started pricing how much these security upgrades could cost, and could not offer estimates at this time.

The Board of Education could decide on the issue in December, when it is scheduled to approve a new five-year plan for the district.

Ultimately, Giancola said, parents and residents should decide what steps the district should take following the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. and other similar events. He said he suggested to parents the possibility of eliminating outdoor recess to limit a potential attacker's access to students, but parents rebuffed that idea.

"I brought up the notion that if it were up to me, (students) would just stay in the building for the six hours (of school)," he said, noting that the community's negative reaction to the idea showed why communication between the administration and the district's parents was so important on security issues at the schools.

Overall, Giancola said the most important new step the district could take would be keeping a police officer at a district building all school day in order to cut down on police response time to an emergency situation.

Teachers in the district are currently undergoing A.L.I.C.E. training, which includes additional steps educators and students can take during a lockdown event to evade or distract an assailant.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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