The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2013

March 2, 2013

Officials work to make schools safe, secure


ENID, Okla. — Ringwood Public Schools

Tom Deighan, superintendent of Ringwood Public Schools, said the school district has worked closely with Major County Sheriff’s Office to increase the presence of law enforcement at schools during the day and at special events such as ballgames. Doing so helped relieve parental concerns, Deighan noted.

“This year we’ve done our intruder-on-campus emergency drills,” Deighan said. “We did one right after Sandy Hook.”

Major County Sheriff Steve Randolph gave a presentation to the school board during the January meeting, Deighan said.

“He gave us some recommendations,” Deighan said. “We’re looking at all sorts of options.”

Deighan noted no amount of security measures and crisis preparation can prevent something from happening.

“A determined person is a danger no matter how good our security is,” Deighan said.

He said he’s noticed an uptick in people contacting the school with concerns about things that might be warning signs.

He said someone like the Sandy Hook killer “are not normal people. They are not people we can think like — that’s the horrible reality that’s settling in on schools,” Deighan said.

Ringwood school board is formulating its next bond proposal and, as part of that process, looking at what security needs should be included, Deighan said.

“At some point every school system will have to decide how much will be taken out of the classroom for safety issues,” Deighan said.

Woodward Public Schools

Tim Merchant, superintendent at Woodward, said school safety is “a constantly evolving, constantly changing” issue.

Merchant notes school security became a widespread public concern after the 1998 shooting at Westside Middle School, Jonesboro, Ark., and has remained so because of later shooting incidents at Columbine High School in 1999,  Virginia Tech in 2007 and, now, Sandy Hook.

“With each incident that has occurred you have a different scenario,” Merchant said.

Woodward’s seven school campuses have run through extensive drills and had emergency service agencies come to the schools to run through intruder scenarios in the schools, Merchant said.

“The thing we’ve learned through the process of these drills is every situation will be different,” Merchant said. “You can practice and practice on one scenario, but what we’re trying to train our teachers and staff is to think and make good decisions on the fly.”

The reason for that is simple.

“Whatever they are going to have to do, they’re going to have to decide on the fly,” Merchant said.

Like Ringwood, Woodward is looking at how much money will be needed to upgrade security.

“We’ve taken what security measures we can — and can afford — at this time,” Merchant said. “We’ve changed locks that need to be changed and added some security cameras. We’re in the planning stage for our next bond issue, and that will be part of the next bond issue.”

Merchant noted making a building hard to get into means it is also hard to get out of, and that could be a problem in an emergency such as a fire.

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Progress 2013
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