Police officers greeted Pine-Richland schoolchildren Monday morning, but otherwise the students' day was fairly routine.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Foley told the Pine-Richland School Board on Monday evening that Northern Regional Police officers came to the schools to alleviate fears on their first day in classes after the mass school shooting in Newtown, CT.
Police will continue to have a presence at the schools, Foley said after the meeting. He did not elaborate on specifics, citing security reasons.
During the meeting, he reported to the board that the day had gone smoothly. Foley also sent an email letter to parents, giving them an update and encouraging them to make appointments before visiting school buildings as another measure to increase security. Click here to read the letter.
The board discussed security at Richland Elementary, where plans are on the drawing board to improve the entrance to make it more secure. Visitors entering the building now pass into a "blind area" that cannot be seen by the main-office staff.
Facilities Management Director Gary Zang reported that a substantial part of construction to improve that entrance is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, in time for the 2013-14 school year. Improvements to a side entrance and parking lot also are planned.
Foley asked if the timetable could be moved up in light of the recent Connecticut tragedy.
"It needs to be addressed as soon as possible," Foley said, noting it is the only blind entrance in the district.
School Board President Peter Lyons said that while accelerating the process feels and looks good, there is nothing more unsecure than a construction site where multiple groups of contractors and sub-contractors are working.
Zang said documents and a request for bid proposals still must be prepared before construction begins. He also noted that putting a hole in the front office for construction requires better weather than winter conditions.
"Because Richland (Elementary) is so unique, there are other alternatives we could look at in the interim," he said, including options to secure the doors or station a guard there.
Foley said he's met with Northern Regional Police Chief T. Robert Amann and Officer Scott Rick, and "they have been terrific." Their discussions included the possiblity of hiring off-duty police officers, he said.
Lyons said discussions about a security plan would continue in an executive session scheduled at the end of the meeting, citing the need to keep portions of the plan confidential.
To see a previous story on security measures in Pine-Richland School District, click here for "What Would Pine-Richland School District Do in an Emergency?"
For a story on Foley's letter to parents about security, click here for "PR School District Assures Parents About Security Efforts"
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