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Wichita police officers would evaluate surveillance, crisis plans as part of school district’s proposed security upgrade

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 1:31 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 11:43 p.m.

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Two Wichita police officers will help evaluate school surveillance and crisis plans as part of a proposed $3 million security upgrade school board members will consider Monday, superintendent John Allison said.

“We’ve been working with them closely for a little over a year now and after Sandy Hook, we accelerated our pace and conversation,” Allison said.

“They’ll look at the exteriors, sit down with the principals and talk crisis plans, and they can help us make those changes we need to at individual buildings.”

The plan calls for about $3 million worth of new cameras and other surveillance equipment, controlled-access doors, buzz-in entrances, a centralized dispatch system and more.

It will replace a hodgepodge of surveillance and security systems at more than 100 district buildings, some of which use dial-up modems and separate network connections.

Allison said he learned last week that two full-time beat officers with the Wichita Police Department will be assigned “on a temporary basis” to the school district to help design and roll out the proposed upgrades.

After the school shootings at Sandy Hook, Allison said, “I received information from Homeland Security, from retired FBI officers that ‘You need to do this, this and this.’

“Then this other agency says, ‘No, you need to do this, this and this.’ Our feeling was, the first responder if there’s an issue is the Wichita Police Department, so we need to be on the same page.

“We need to be doing what the SWAT team and all the others want us to do, and that’s what we’ve been trying to focus on.”

Allison said the district has been working with Terri Moses, deputy chief of the Wichita Police Department, to develop the plan. Last month, the district announced that Moses will be the new executive director of safety and security for Wichita schools.

Moses, who will begin her new position June 3, said two officers recently completed advanced training in a program called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and will work on the school district project and others throughout the city.

School board president Lynn Rogers said he supports upgrading school security.

“I do think it’s time,” he said. “There’s been a lot of technology changes, and we do need to expand the number of cameras and things … It will make everybody feel a lot more secure.”

In addition to high-definition cameras and monitors, the plan calls for installing buzz-in entrances at some schools — primarily older, smaller buildings — where the main entrance does not feed directly into the front office.

Board members have approved building controlled-access entryways at many schools as part of bond issue improvements, but some floor plans prove challenging.

East High School, for example, the district’s largest school, has more than 30 exterior doors, and its main office is on the second floor. That school employs hall monitors inside several doorways to help direct visitors to the office.

“High schools are more difficult because you’ve got so many different programs going on, students coming in and out,” Allison said.

“With some buildings there is no way, without tearing half the building down,” to install controlled-access, lobby-style entryways, he said.

If board members approve the plan Monday, Allison said upgrades could start this summer.

The school board meets 6 p.m. Monday in the North High lecture hall, 1437 Rochester. In addition to the security measures, board members will consider:

• Authorizing up to $200,000 for repairs to Enders Elementary School, which opened last fall. During a weekend in April, a water line under a classroom sink broke and flooded a classroom and hallway at the school, according to the agenda item.

Construction at the school should be under warranty, and the district should be able to recoup the cost of repairs. “However, before this loss is settled with the building’s contractors, the district may have to advance payment for the repairs … and replacement of contents,” the report says.

• Raising the price of an adult school lunch by 15 cents — from $3.15 to $3.30 — to comply with requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An earlier proposal to raise student meal prices was dropped after officials got more guidance on the regulations from federal officials.

• Approving another $500,000 to upgrade the district’s electronic finance and payroll system, bringing the upgrade total to about $2.2 million.

• Spending up to $160,000 for training and materials as part of Randy Sprick’s Safe & Civil Schools program and up to $275,000 for Explicit Instruction, a program designed by consultant Anita Archer.

• Renewing its contract with ParentLink, the district’s automatic notification system, for $115,000.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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