Weekly Feature

2018-11-08 / Local News

Lancaster spotlights safety features

by BRYAN JACKSON Cheektowaga Editor

The Lancaster Central School District is continually reassessing and revamping its campus-wide security measures and could be adding more safety features if a December capital project proposition is OK’d by voters, according to Jamie Phillips, assistant superintendent of business and support services.

Phillips, School Resource Officer William Loewer, Lancaster Police Detective Lt. James Robinson and Principals Jacqui Bull and Carrie Greene were part of a lengthy safety and security presentation at Monday night’s School Board meeting. They discussed upgrades already made, as well as ways the district stays vigilant and up-to-date with best practices.

In the past half decade, the district has undertaken a series of procedural and infrastructure improvements related to school safety and security.

Procedurally, the district has increased lockdown drills and decreased the use of its schools as polling places. Additionally, the Lancaster Police Department conducts training exercises in the schools to familiarize officers with their layouts, according to Robinson.

“Every year we pick a different school, and we do active shooter response training, we do [simulated ammunition] training. ... We’re trying to make all of our officers very familiar with all of the buildings in the district,” Robinson said.

In addition to those procedural and policy measures, the district has improved locks and cameras, installed panic buttons throughout buildings and implemented identification badges, Phillips said.

Board President Patrick Uhteg said he was impressed by the district’s efforts, noting how inconvenient security measures can be for students, teachers and visitors.

“Many times … following those specific procedures at schools sometimes can be cumbersome, especially when you have a lot of people there waiting to get in, but those things are necessary, and they’re very important,” he said. “We’re very diligent in establishing those procedures in cooperation with law enforcement professionals and making sure we have people in our buildings that insist upon following them.”

Some of the additional safety and security upgrades proposed in the capital project include new cameras at all schools; replacing the fire alarm system at John A. Sciole, Como Park and William Street elementary schools; relocating the school resource officer’s office so that it is closer to the middle school main entrance; and replacing classroom doors at various schools.

The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at John A. Sciole Elementary School, 86 Alys Drive, Depew. The capital project vote will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the high school Java Gym, 1 Forton Drive, Lancaster.

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