School Business Affairs February 2020

14 FEBRUARY 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS • Consider lanyard-type visitor passes instead of stick- ers, which can fall off. • Store visitor passes behind counters and put processes in place to ensure that they are returned or voided upon sign-out or expiration. • Separate areas that are available to the community after school hours—such as gyms, auditoriums, or meeting rooms—with gates or other barriers. • Provide supervision vantage points. Monitor large areas of hallways and classroom entrances from one point (security station). Divide the building into wings and floors to properly manage supervision and secu- rity. An easy, inexpensive way to differentiate areas is to color-code them. • Use vision panels to create visual connections between spaces for better supervision. • Create refuge areas (havens) in classrooms where occupants can gather out of view of the corridor. Distinct floor patterns can indicate a safe zone within each classroom. Younger students can be instructed to gather in safe areas. • Equip classrooms with keyless door-locking systems and shading devices on hallway and exterior glazed areas. • Number classrooms for easy identification during an emergency. Post numbers in the hallways, on the building exterior, and in the classrooms. After Hours and School Visitation School security does not end with the final bell. Schools today have seen a marked increase in facility use at night and on weekends. It’s important to use available technol- ogy to protect the facility during these off-hours. Regarding school visits, an online par- ent portal allows parents to schedule appointments, student sign-outs, and other visitation activities. Drop-off bins where parents can bring students’ forgotten items is another way to limit access—espe- cially for the lower grades. Before moving forward on these types of activities, it’s impor- tant to review the school visitation policies. In Summary By initiating a course of “proactive prevention” to identify potential incidents before they occur, district leaders can enhance their overall safety plans. Encour- age all students and staff members to be vigilant and to report any evidence of threats or boasts predicting vio- lence—80% of the information related to violent actions comes from students and parents. The STOPit app is one tool that helps students report incidents or get help. Apps like STOPit support the See Something, Say Some- thing campaign. Although most states provide security training and tools to promote school safety, no widely accepted inde- pendent standards are available for school building secu- rity. Best practices are specific to each facility. Security experts recognize that districts cannot plan for all emergencies, but they urge school leaders to implement security plans and procedures that will slow down, deter, and detain school intruders; maximize responsiveness of first responders; and maintain effec- tive communication with authorities during school emergencies. Michael Wozny is the director of educational projects at EI Associates in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. E-mail: michael_ Louis Pepe is the assistant superintendent/chief financial officer for the City of Summit Public Schools in Summit, New Jersey. Email: SABINE HÜRDLER/STOCK.ADOBE.COM