It is something no school official wants to even think about, yet recent history shows that unfortunately, school security requires action.
Safety has been a top priority in the Stoughton Area School District in recent years, and those efforts continued at Monday night’s board meeting, where members received an update on the requirements of two Wisconsin Department of Justice safety grants and security issues in district schools.
Last month, the district completed security drills to review potential vulnerabilities in schools. While those results won’t be made available to the public for security reasons, school board president Frank Sullivan told the Hub that “to the extent that the drills revealed any vulnerabilities, we will fix them quickly.”
Earlier this year, in the wake of a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Wisconsin Legislature made $100 million in grants available for schools to improve safety measures through efforts to “prepare for, respond to, or recover from violence.”
In July, the district was awarded a $109,285 DOJ grant, and another $168,391 in October. According to district officials, the vast majority of the funding was for acquisition and installation of security cameras to cover the interior of all five of its schools, with a small portion of the money slated to outfit entryway vestibule windows with shatterproof film.
It’s the latest round of security improvements, which started with the 2014 referendum that included a variety of security measures in district buildings. More recently, the district has been locking doors during the school day, and in fall 2016, implemented an online visitor management system that completes a sex offender background check.
As part of the DOJ grants, the district is required to have an annual active shooter/violence/threat drill at each school, like the ones conducted last month. Sullivan said staff worked with students and families to make sure the drills were conducted in an “age-appropriate way that would not traumatize innocents.”
“Among their many other duties, our staff now have to somehow teach kindergartners what to do if someone tries to kill them while they are playing with blocks or drinking juice,” he said. “The fact that we now have to prepare for attempted mass murder of schoolchildren in the same way that we prepare for fires or tornadoes is morally insane.”
The board is set to approve a new emergency plan manual at its next meeting Dec. 17.