By GALEN HOLLEY
A lengthy discussion about school safety unfolded Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Grenada County School Board.
For nearly two hours the board heard school officials as well as city and county representatives talk about ways in which Grenada schools could maximize their security.
Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault said that in the wake of the school shootings in Newton Conn., and after a Grenada Middle School student brought a gun to school, the district was reevaluating its security policies and taking steps to ensure that Grenada “does not become a statistic.”
“We understand the gravity of the situation and we want to reassure parents that we’re taking every reasonable step to ensure their children’s safety,” Daigneault said.
In his opening address, Daigneault said that the district is putting in door buzzers at each of its schools. In order for a person to gain entrance to the school, they must buzz the office. School personnel view the person at the door through a camera. Those personnel then unlock the door by remote.
The district is also in the process of installing walk-through metal detectors at each school, Daigneault said. Tuesday the board voted unanimously to adopt new policies that addressed procedures for using the detectors.
Daigneault said that he watched the drama at Newtown unfold and took note of the strengths and weaknesses of Sandy Hook Elementary’s security plan.
“They did everything right,” said Daigneault, noting one exception.
An armed guard, Daigneault said, was the crucial piece missing from Sandy Hook’s plan.
As it stands, there are guards at the Upper and Lower Elementary, Grenada Middle School, two buildings at Grenada High School and at the Alternative School at Tie Plant.
The district is also considering hiring at least one more school resource officer to serve alongside its current officer who is stationed at the high school, Daigneault said.
“Ideally we would prefer to have four, maybe five school resource officers and one or two guards still stationed at all the schools,” Daigneault said.
The district would revisit its cell phone policy, Daigneault said, and effective next school year, children in lower grades will be required to use clear or mesh backpacks. Students in grades 6-12 will not be allowed to have backpacks at all, Daigneault said. The district will soon purchase a new law enforcement vehicle from the Highway Patrol to replace its outdated vehicle.