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School Board Approves Secure Entry System

The Central Bucks School Board on Tuesday formally approved new buzz-in entry systems for the district's 23 schools.

The Central Bucks School Board on Tuesday night approved the installation of new buzz-in security systems at all the district's schools.

The vote was a formality. School administrators began the process while schools were closed for the holidays, installing a test system at Linden Elementary School in Doylestown Borough.

Since then, the systems have been installed at six or seven of the district's 23 schools, Superintendent Dr. Rodney Green said Tuesday night. The remaining elementary and middle schools are expected to be finished by the end of next week, he said.

The seven school board members present at Tuesday's meeting voted unanimously in favor of the project.

"I was thrilled about the buzzer system," said Tyler Tomlinson, who represents most of Doylestown Township. "I don’t think we can be too secure. More is better than less and sooner is better than later."

Consisting of a new latching mechanism, along with an intercom and a doorbell, the buzzer system will cost about $500 for each school, Green said, for a total of about $11,500.

Under the new system, parents and other visitors will be asked to show identification and state their reason for being at the school, Green said. Anyone who doesn't have ID or a valid reason to enter will not be allowed in, he said.

Staff training will be essential to ensuring that office personnel adhere to those guidelines, Green said.

When the door opens, visitors will step into a vestibule that opens into the school office, rather than the school itself. Those vestibules were installed a few years ago.

Still, a buzzer system won't stop an armed intruder from blasting his way in, as a gunman is believed to have done on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Adam Lanza went on to kill 20 first-graders and six educators before killing himself.

Central Bucks officials acknowledged that the buzzer system won't stop all threats but said it still is worth adopting.

"It's another layer of security," Green said. "This was something we could do fairly inexpensively that would enhance" the district's other security procedures.

The three Central Bucks high schools will be getting their own buzz-in systems, too, but those plans needed more time to complete.

School offices also will be equipped with panic buttons that will automatically call 911 to report an emergency without needing to use the phone. Those are expected to be installed after the buzz-in systems are complete.

School principals are in the process of reviewing their building's security procedures, Green said. A district-level team will meet in a couple weeks to review those findings, he said.

School Board president Stephen Corr said the new approach is about more than just hardware. It signals a change in the district's overall policy on school visits.

"Before, it was an open-door policy, and that’s the balancing act that we play," Corr said. "How do we keep it as a community school and protect the children at the same time?"

Jules January 09, 2013 at 06:18 PM
I love it. It gives our children another level of security. I have a bell on my front door, which is always locked for safety. I don't want unknown visitors slipping through open doors at home or at school.
Tabitha Hook January 09, 2013 at 06:44 PM
I love the idea! I also love that the district is moving forward with measures to ensure not only the safety of our kids, but also piece of mind for parents. I have 2 daughters in elementary school, and a son that will e going in a couple years. So I can say from experience this makes me feel better.
Dawn Byers January 09, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Yes, I agree it is great how fast our school board and Dr. Green reacted to this tragedy. However, I hope as a community we continue to invest in programs that support anti-bullying and mental health programs so situations don't escalate to require these types of measures. As well, I am a firm believer that everything starts in the home. We as parents have to take the responsibility to see red flags and do something about it. It truly takes a village. And organizations like CB Cares have been active in our community for 15 years helping parents and students with positive and supportive programs. To help them continue in their new role as an educational foundation and providing these wonderful programs to avoid these disastrous situations please go to their website http://cb-cares.org/50cents.cfm I am a proud supporter of their 50 cent project!
Susan M January 10, 2013 at 02:05 AM
This is a great idea. Council Rock should consider this, esp since we had a recent scare. Although it would not prevent a student smuggling in weapons while arriving for his normal day. Every added security measure we can do is worth the cost. Also love the panic buttone idea for the main office.

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