East Lyme forum covers security improvements for district schools

East Lyme - Superintendent of Schools James Lombardo outlined districtwide security and safety initiatives, from infrastructure upgrades to additional staff training, at a community forum last Wednesday.

Lombardo presented the results of the school district's security audit that examined areas from equipment needs to staff training.

"High-tech" video phones, server upgrades and key fobs to enable teachers to enter locked buildings were among equipment improvements proposed.

Facility recommendations incorporate more lighting and signage outside buildings, door locks and fencing. Fencing by the middle school, for example, would prevent the hazard of a ball rolling onto the road during recess, Lombardo explained.

The recommendations included more extensive training in security protocols for staff, including "every new hire and every volunteer," he said. All administrators will complete hazard-management training, called National Incident Management Training, this summer.

Since the system's first safety forum in December, Lombardo said the district has received recommendations from the state's Sandy Hook Commission.

"A lot of their recommendations we either had in place or are in the process of putting into place," he told the parents, administrators and school board members at Wednesday's forum.

Lombardo also recently met with superintendents, including the superintendent of the Newtown school district, who is a resident of East Lyme. He said the meeting was emotional.

Lombardo stressed that while it may be impossible to prevent a person from attempting to do harm, the "key is slowing down someone who wants to do harm," effectively decreasing the likelihood of harm.

Procedures and programs already in place include lockdown drills, two full-time social workers through Child and Family Services, metal-detectors wands used on occasion and a recent active shooter drill by town emergency management personnel.

Security measures accounted for $25,000 in the current year's budget and the school board has approved about $110,000 in next year's town's capital budget for additional security equipment, said Lombardo.

Lombardo will present the security recommendations to the school board today at a 7 p.m. meeting at East Lyme High School, in which the board also will enter into executive session to discuss security plans in more detail.

k.drelich@theday.com

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