Spokane Public School District implementing security programs

Spokane Public School District implementing security programs

After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting of 2012, Spokane Public Schools took a close look at its own security. Now it’s implementing several pilot programs to keep students safe.

Schools have always been a center for learning, but today they also have to be a fortress of knowledge.

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, the school district evaluated its own safety.

“Single point of entry kind of rose to the top of that,” said Kevin Morrison, Director of Community Relations for Spokane Public Schools.

There are currently eight pilot programs in the district focusing on just that: funneling people in and out through one door. One of those programs is underway now at Arlington Elementary in northeast Spokane.

“[We’re] seeing just kind of how the work flow goes and how the overall impact is on the community and on office staff and school environment,” said Morrison.

It’s taken parents a little bit to get used to, but the point of entry system is fairly simple: walk in the front doors, talk into an intercom to identify yourself, and then the secretary will buzz you right in. The next step for visitors, if they are going anywhere else besides the office, is to sign in with the lobby guard. You take a quick photo, put on a badge, and you’re good to go.

“Upon hearing that this is really about the safety of their kids, [parents] have been behind this all the way,” said Arlington Elementary Principal Sue Unruh.

Unruh says having traffic flow through one access point is a step in the right direction.

“Secretaries are handling the incoming buzzing quite well,” said Unruh.

If voters approve a 2015 bond, the district will receive five to six million dollars to implement the single point of entry security system in all schools. In the meantime, the pilot program at Arlington is having unintended benefits

“I think it’s making a difference as far as kids coming to school on time and that’s just a nice after effect,” said Unruh.

Even the most well-protected schools should also be the most welcoming for the eager student.