Written by Jill Nossa Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
The focus of the Dec. 17 Glen Cove City School District Board of Education meeting, held at Robert M. Finley Middle School, was on school safety. The meeting took place on the first day back at school after the horrific shootings that occurred in Newton, Connecticut just three days earlier.
The board of education honored the victims with 27 seconds of silence, and Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Laria opened with a statement regarding safety procedures and other measures being taken to insure all of the buildings in the district are safe and secure.
“I spent the entire day in the schools doing a systems check. The schools are safe and secure and in compliance with the SAVE legislation and in compliance with the drills in terms of lockdown procedures,” he said. “We had an emergency administrators meeting this afternoon and I asked the principals of each building to develop a punchlist of items that we could improve upon.”
He said that he plans to meet with Mayor Suozzi, Police Chief Whitton, the director of security and the director of facilities next month to assess what is currently being done correctly in terms of safety procedures and what could be improved.
Dr. Laria noted that while generally he feels the schools are safe and secure, there are several areas that could use improvement, such as adding trained security guards at the elementary schools.
“We are hoping the unthinkable never happens here,” he said.
Resident Janet Blatt addressed the high school’s open campus policy, stating that she didn’t think it is necessary, or safe, for students to be allowed to order lunch and have it delivered to the school.
Douglas Oko, who said he has a 5-year-old at Gribbin Elementary School, addressed his concern with the lack of safety precautions at that specific school. He said he felt the buzzer system was inadequate and that a security guard should be present in the parking lot.
Another resident also brought up the lack of security on the school grounds.
“There needs to be a visual deterrent,” he suggested, adding that presence could come from either security guards or auxiliary police patrols.
Parents raised concerns about unlocked doors at the various elementary schools and the middle school, and the principals were quick to assure them that the doors were now all locked from the outside, and all other security measures were being taken. Other concerns included security during after school activities and when students from other schools are in the district’s buildings for various events.
All concerns were noted by the school board and the administration as matters to look into further to see how to improve the security and ensure safety.
Mayor Suozzi was also present, and assured the school district, “the city is on your side…this is not just the school’s responsibility but the community’s as well. We will be here to guide you and do what we have to do to protect the children. That’s the most important job we have right now.”