We work with a lot of school districts to help them secure grant funding to address school security and student safety issues. The school security grant market is a competive one, though, and it can take some time before districts are able to secure the grant dollars they need. As you wait for school security grant funding to come through, however, you don't have to be idle. There are many inexpensive measures school districts can take to improve their school’s security, and in fact, many of these measures may aid in making your future grant proposals more competitive.
We’ve invited Joe from Profile Security to discuss a few of the measures schools can enact that will help improve their safety, without breaking a budget.
School security has its challenges. While there seems to be a system designed to address every kind of threat that schools face today, these measures aren’t always a good fit for every school district. At the same time, it’s unreasonable for schools to rely on staff and student vigilance for all of their safety precautions.
The best option is always prevention. There are several low-cost things schools can do to help ensure they are secure from external and internal threats.
First, each school should have a Risk Management Team. This is a team made up of representatives from all levels within the school district, including educators, administration, and staff. They should meet regularly to discuss concerns, review incidents, and go over the district’s security procedures. Having an active Risk Management Team can also make future school safety grant proposals more competitive. As a group of professionals familiar with the unique challenges the school faces, they are qualified to estimate what projects or systems would be most effective.
Access to the school should also be carefully controlled, such as through fences, staffed security, or automated access systems. Automated access systems usually work with a combination of cameras and key-cards or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) access devices. Using the system, every student and staff member has to swipe or log in to gain entrance. Every access is then logged on a central computer system, creating a record of who gained access when. This type of system can provide invaluable information if an incident, such as a missing student, does occur. Such systems may also be more affordable than some districts think and are easy to expand, since the systems are controlled by a computer and a centralized database. Districts may chose to install an access system on their most problem-prone campuses, and when budget allows, the system can be expanded throughout the district.
Security lighting is another cost-effective method of school security that can be very easy to implement, and it can be especially effective when paired with one or more of the following:
Neighboring property or passing traffic
Regular security patrols
Lighting units can be a prime target for vandalism, however, and should be protected. Security lighting has been shown to be most effective when it is used to address a specific problem, rather than installed as a cover-all option.
Having unauthorized access to the roofs and windows of school buildings can also lead to vandalism and other safety concerns. You can limit unauthorized access by planting hostile plants such as holly, blackthorn, or rose. The addition of “anti-climb” paint to the exterior of buildings and the installation of obstacles, such as anti-climb spikes above head height, also make it difficult for an intruder to gain access.
With whatever methods are implemented, it’s important to have suitable warning signs informing people of the danger. In fact, the signs themselves can serve as a deterrent to unwanted access.
Finally, if you have major concerns about the security of your school district, it’s wise to contact a professional security agency and have a security assessment completed. Many companies offer free consultations, and even if you chose to not use their services, their insight can be valuable.