School Board Considers New Ideas on Campus Safety

An updated security assess-ment presented recently to th suggested ways of funneling campus visitors into a single controlled entry point to mitigate potential threats to students and faculty.
The board did not make any decisions regarding the recommendations, but it will include its updated information in an overall facilities needs assessment. Hal Sibley, vice president of the consulting firm gkkworks, made the presentation to the board at its Sept. 25 meeting.
Every school, Sibley said, would benefit from a controlled vestibule area that would require visitors to be buzzed in through a gate to gain access to school campuses. Carver and Valentine elementary schools have a similar gate system, but they still aren’t as secure as they could be, he said.
“Our primary issue at Carver is unrestricted access to the campus after initial entry,” Sibley explained. “Once you’re in, you have unimpeded access to get anywhere on campus.
“Same issue [at Valentine],” he added. “Unrestricted access. Once you’re buzzed in, you’re supposed to go to the office, but there’s nothing forcing you to go to the office.”
The report hailed Carver as having the most comprehensive protection among SMUSD schools, with a full perimeter fence sealing off campus. Valentine has a similar situation, although gkkworks recommended additional fencing near Room 32 to shore up the perimeter.
Both schools’ entry points, Sibley said, would benefit from a containment area between the gate and the main office.
Huntington Middle School would require more substantial additions, Sibley said, to secure its campus in a way similar to that of the elementary schools. He recommended closing off the open walkway between the main campus entrance and the interior of the site, enclosing the entranceway to facilitate the creation of a vestibule there and adding a buzz-in gate and video cameras with it.
Sibley also recommended remodeling the corridor between the administration building and Hutto Lab to allow student access across campus without their leaving the secure perimeter. A variety of other recommendations would effectively seal off the campus through piecemeal additions.
For San Marino High School, the gkkworks report noted that securing the campus in the same manner as at HMS should be a top priority for the district and that concerns about its openness have been regularly expressed since 2013.
To create a single point of entry through the main doors, it was suggested to fence and gate off the entire southern side of campus facing Huntington Drive and also created a vestibule out of the entrance to control the flow of entry for visitors.
“There’s really no way to stop anybody who walks into the lobby,” Sibley said. “Once you’re in the lobby, you can get anywhere on campus.”
There also were a variety of fencing and gate recommendations regarding the sides and back of campus to fully enclose it, as well as suggestions to install extra surveillance cameras in key areas.
The board took the presentation under advisement, but there is no indication when it may seriously revisit the topic of major facilities upgrades that would include these improvements. The November election has three board seats up for election, and there will be another election in February concerning a parcel tax to fund some teaching positions.
Board member Chris Norgaard noted that the district should keep San Marino’s police and fire departments in the loop whenever decisions regarding facilities access and safety are made.
“I think whenever we’re talking about building anything or tearing anything down, it’s important in this day and age to include them,” he said.

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