Not quite two years after the tragic Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the New Jersey School Boards Association School Security Task Force in October 2014 released its final report, “What Makes Schools Safe?” The result of more than a year of study, the 97-page report includes findings and research to guide local boards as they make decisions critical to the security of their communities’ schools and the safety of their students.

With educators everywhere attuned to the need to keep children and schools safe, the task force found districts around the state taking measures to boost security. A snapshot follows.

Best Value  Acknowledging that resources are limited in school districts, an architectural expert was asked which three security enhancements provide the most value. Listed were:

  • Classroom door hardware starting with classroom doors closest to the front entrance.
  • Entryway redesign to add security doors/partitions. This will detain visitors in vestibules until security clearance is granted, and/or will direct individuals to the principal’s office and away from classrooms.
  • Ballistic film on windows and glass doors to prevent entry via shattering.

Low-Cost, No-Cost Enhancements Some security enhancements have virtually no cost. Hand-in-hand with physical upgrades, districts may review and improve procedures such as:

  • Re-designation of entrances for students, staff and visitors.
  • The use of visitor/vendor escorts.
  • Key distribution protocol such as, who gets a key; what type of key; and making sure that all keys are returned at the end of the school year.
  • Reviewing protocols for visitors entry, student transportation, and after-school activities.

Jeanette Rundquist is the NJSBA communications officer.