The Framingham Public Schools, working with Framingham Police and Framingham Fire, will ask Town Meeting members to vote on $250,000 worth of possible security upgrades at the town's schools, said Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin.
"This is a combined town and school effort," emphasized Halpin, who Tuesday summarized the warrant article to Framingham Selectmen. The article has not been discussed at a Framingham School Committee meeting yet.
Selectmen Tuesday night voted to close the Annual Town Meeting warrant with 56 articles on it. Town Meeting starts May 1, but will open with a Special Town Meeting warrant, with one lone article on the new proposed McAuliffe library branch on Water Street in Nobscot.
The proposed school security warrant article will address security needs, including possible additional staff, additional cameras and door upgrades, explained Halpin.
Framingham Public Schools, according to its website, plans to re-issue ID badges next year and revise the level of security with the ID badges. This may have budget implications depending on the level of ID security required.
The school system's technology department also is considering adding a public address system to coordinate with the current communication system. This is still being investigated, but also would have an impact on the school budget.
Earlier this month, the school district posted an update on the security at its schools on its website.
"Framingham Public Schools promote a safe and orderly environment for our educational community. We have been reviewing the Emergency Response Plan to assess our capacity to respond to emergencies. Prior to Sandy Hook, the Framingham Schools had already begun the process of reviewing the security in the schools and reviewing the Emergency Response Plan. Access control to school campuses and buildings is a top concern for the Framingham Public Schools," states the memo on the school's website.
"School administrators struggle with maintaining a balance between having a user-friendly, welcoming school climate and a facility which is secure from unwanted intruders. While even the best school access control efforts will likely not guarantee that a determined outsider will not be able to gain access to the school, we must take reasonable steps to reduce the risks of unauthorized access," continues the memo.
Parents are being asked to help in the process by supporting the budget requet to improve security measures, complying with security procedures and reporting anything they see to the schools.
Actions taken by Framingham Public Schools since the security review began:
- Assigned the senior principal in the district to revise the Emergency Response Plan.
- Conducted security walkthroughs with the Framingham Police in all of the schools to evaluate our current level of readiness.
- Provided concrete feedback to every Principal after every security walkthrough.
- Met with the Framingham Police to develop steps to provide guidance on security measures.
- Provided every school with security cameras at every entrance and at key external points in every school.
- Provided a buzzer and intercom at every main entrance to communicate with people doing business with the schools.
- Required all staff to wear an identification badge.
- Required signage at the schools for visitors to report to the office.
- Develop screening procedures for visitors. Visitors sign –in and are required to have a visitor’s badge.
- Required that all external doors be locked during school hours.
- Provided a screener at Framingham High to screen visitors and to provide additional vigilance.
- Programed computers for secretaries to access the security cameras. Principals and Assistant principals also had their computers programed.
- Met with Framingham Fire to begin the review the emergency plan.
- Began to address the identified security needs of the schools.
- Installed external door electronic access for staff use during school time.
- Met with before/after school program coordinators, Principals and Framingham Police to review their security needs.
- Attended a workshop, with the keynote speaker Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, on security in schools.
- •Met with a Barbieri parent to gain support for security improvement at the schools. This parent is a Town Meeting member.
- Framingham Police conducted training for the school custodians.
- school administration met with a security consultant, at no cost, on Feb. 14 to look at additional possibilities to improve security in the schools.
Still in process, according to the Framingham School District:
- FPS Buildings and Grounds will continue to chip away at the list of door repairs and camera adjustments highlighted on the walkthroughs. the department is working to address the needs for doors at Barbieri Elementary.
- After school program meetings are being held at each elementary school to look at their own security needs.
- We are looking into how to provide the information to Principals to know when a door is locked or open at any time during the day. This can be done but may require an additional box to be installed. This has budget implications.
- Training of afterschool staff about security.
- Set up a Meeting with the Fire department and central office Emergency Response team to revise the Emergency Response Plan.
- Develop training for all staff on security measures, emergency responses and protocols.
- Develop training for students on emergency responses.
- Update the Emergency Response Plan.