While the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. put many school districts in reactive mode, the Greendale School District had already spent several years working with community and police officials on a continuously-updated security plan, High School Principal Steve Lodes said.
That work provided a framework for each school to customize its safety efforts, Lodes said. It will also make it easy for the school board to fulfill a state requirement to adopt and implement a school safety plan by May 26, because most of the work is already done.
In a Greendale School Board meeting last week, Lodes outlined recent efforts and possible capital projects to improve safety in schools.
Lodes said officials are studying ways to improve exits and entrances, looking into two-way radios and are close to finishing a project in which the Greendale Police Department would hook up with the high school video surveillance system.
Work is also still needed to address before-school, lunch time and after-school supervision, Lodes said.
"It's just a very elusive, hard thing to figure out," he said. "We need to figure out how to make all schools safe even when kids are not sitting in desks."
Officials also identified adding alarms on doors and more security cameras at the middle school as potential upgrades.
Improvements like those cost money and would need school board approval this spring. However, not all security enhancements have a price tag associated with it—many others are a matter of training and communication, Lodes said.
Lodes said Police Chief Robert Malasuk told him during a walk-through of the buildings that the most important thing the district can do is prepare staff and administrators to control a crisis situation.
"Make the staff confident, let them know what they need to do once we go into a crisis situation, allow them to make professional decisions," Lodes said. "And that is all free. That's communication, that's training, and it's also making sure everybody is as ready as can possibly be."