School district’s new security system is now active


Weiser School District Superintendent Kenneth Dewlen demonstrates the new security measure recently installed at all district schools to ensure staff, student, and visitor safety. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
By: 
Philip A. Janquart
Patrons must identify themselves before entering school buildings
 
Individuals visiting school campuses within the Weiser School District now must identify themselves before entering district buildings.
 Phase I of the WSD’s new security protocol went online districtwide last week at Weiser High and Middle schools, as well as Pioneer Elementary and Park Intermediate schools.
 Doors to buildings are now locked and anyone wanting access must stop at a security point located at the front door of each school. 
 There, visitors will push a button to call the front office in order to communicate with school staff.
 “It (software) will be on selected people’s computers, and it will come up if there is a visitor; it will ‘ding,’ or ‘chime’ so they know you are there,” explained WSD Superintendent Kenneth Dewlen “There is a camera, so personnel on the other end can see you and talk to you through a microphone. They will ask who you are and why you are there, and then, if you’ve got business in the school, they will buzz you in.”
 District policy has always required visitors to first stop at the front office while on school property but, until last week, anyone could walk into any of the schools at any time, unannounced.
 “Now we have the opportunity to harden our assets or to deter anything bad happening,” Dewlen said.
 District officials have been eager to enhance security, considering armed school attacks that have occurred throughout the country in recent years. 
 “It creates … safety and security for our students and staff because Heaven forbid something ever happens here, like what happened in other places,” Dewlen said. “From now on … all of our buildings will be a deterrent for anybody [with criminal intent] that wants to come in … because you aren’t going to waste your time on a door that won’t open.”
 The systems were installed by Boise-based security technology company M2 Automation at a cost of $97,900, according to Dewlen, who said the funds came from the Idaho State Department of Education’s Securing Our Future (SOF) Grant Program under its School Safety and Security arm.
 The program is a safety initiative between the governor’s office, the Idaho Legislature, and the State Board of Education.
 “The goal of the SOF grants is to fund meaningful, durable, and demonstrated effective security improvements in Idaho K-12 schools,” according to the program website.
 Phase II of the new security measure involves a proposed new PA system at the high school. The district would like to install new PA systems at all schools – they are all old – but the state will only pay for one, according to Dewlen who said the ability to transmit information in an emergency is crucial.
 Last week, the district submitted paperwork for another grant through the SOF program to cover the cost of installing a new PA system at Weiser High. If funded, the money will be used to install them in boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, the gym, and foyer at the front of the school, among other areas.
 It has taken a year from the time the district applied for the first grant to the time the new security equipment was installed, hinting at a potential timeframe for the completion of phase II.
 Dewlen conceded that it will take time for people to adjust to the new security protocol, especially students who are accustomed to walking freely through the front doors during school hours.
 “There is going to be a learning curve, a paradigm change,” he said. “Within the system, we’ll be able to program it in reference to the times we want to allow free-flow; other than that, you have to buzz in. If you find yourself tardy, you’ll have to buzz and go to the front office.”
 

 

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18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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