Florida School Board focuses on safety and security as it prepares new budget

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  • As it continues its work on a budget for the 2018-19 school year, the Florida School Board already has set aside $160,000 for a full-time security officer for both S.S. Seward Institute, pictured here, and Golden Hill Elementary.

  • Photo by A.J. Arias Left to Right Howard Cohen, Meg Sgombick, Jan Jehring, Superindent of Schools, Timothy Beattie, Vice President, Leta L. Jagielski, District Clerk

By A.J. Arias

— The Florida School Board held its final working session April 5 before it adopts the 2018/19 proposed budget on April 19.

The current budget totals $21,231,803. The main increase for next year’s budget will be funds for more safety and security measures.

Superintendent Jan Jehring and her office have been proactively sitting on meetings and learning the best ways to improve the security of the Florida School District. This includes looking into several different security systems that build upon what is already exists.

Jehring said that she is currently looking into three different systems and presented attributes of two of them at the board’s work session.

The potential upgrades Jehring spoke of from these systems include:

Putting all security measures and camera feeds to one cohesive system;

Transitioning from the current code system entrance system to a swipe system;

Allowing for instantaneous lock downs from multiple parts of the building. The current protocol calls for someone to call the main office to make them aware of lock down situation, which would then be communicated to the entire school over the PA system.

Add more cameras or upgrade existing cameras in areas of importance as well as around the perimeter of the school;

Sensors that can detect vaping and when doors are ajar.

Finally, one upgrade would be a more enhanced check system, which would require the school’s greeter to scan the identification of any user before they receive a pass into the school.

Vestibule enhancementsOne project in particular that Jehring was looking to construct was a vestibule.

"The vestibule has already been drawn up my architects and would be a capital project to upgrade the school, in order to receive funding to cover the costs," the superintendent said. "The vestibule would work as a second line of defense after a visitor had handed in their ID to the school’s front desk. It would be an area that visitors are escorted to, that doesn’t have access to the building, while their ID is being processed for permission to gain entrance into the building."

Greater police presenceThe board has already set aside $160,000 in the upcoming budget for a full-time police officer or security guard for both Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Institute. There is currently a mutual agreement between the police department and school for a constant police presence on both campuses but this would make things official and would call for a full-time presence.

Jehring said she is confident with the schools safety and security as it stands now but is aware that upgrades are necessary. The next step is to have a threat assessment done in both schools that would make note of areas in need of additional security.

One area that Jehring wants to upgrade is outside of each school so that building principals can be alerted about any threats before it gains access to the building. This part of the “harden your perimeter” tactic that is often recommended to anyone trying to improve the safety of a building.

Community forumJehring said that all the upgrades will change the culture a bit but it is necessary.

In two weeks’ time Jehring will go over the new budget and explain these safety upgrades.

Following that meeting there will be a broad safety forum for the entire community with more details about what these upgrades will look like.

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