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Security Greets New School Year

Responding to wide spread concerns about school security and safety since the tragedy last December in Newtown, Connecticut, Port Washington Schools Superintendent Kathleen Mooney has announced new procedures that will go into effect when school begins again on Monday.

The biggest change from past practices will be the scanning of driver’s licenses of all who visit district buildings. Those who don’t actually have driver’s licenses will be asked to produce a New York State issued non-driver identification card. The Department of Motor Vehicle application form for the ID card will be available in the schools and on the district website.

Dr. Mooney also said that there would also be roving security with the hiring of four additional security personnel to cover Weber Middle School and the five elementary schools.

The information booth on Campus Drive, across from the administration building, will also be completed and buzzer entry systems will be installed in the elementary schools.

The tragedy in Connecticut forced an intense re-examination of school safety and security measures. Dr. Mooney announced a series of changes regarding safety and security in a letter to the community posted on the district website last month. Dr Mooney is beginning her 2nd year in charge of the 5,300-student district, after serving as interim superintendent from last August until her appointment in December.

The new license scanning procedure doesn’t figure to be too much of an inconvenience, according to Dr. Mooney. “Most of our parents already know over the last few years that they’ve had to show their driver’s license,” she explained. “But the change now is that it’s going to be scanned. There’ll be a better record keeping of visitors to a building.”

These changes came about as a result of the combined efforts of the district’s administrators, the emergency preparedness committee and the district’s safety committee.

The Port Washington and Sands Point Police Departments were also consulted and asked for their suggestions and evaluations. Each of the district’s buildings were carefully assessed and evaluated by the committees. Additional funding was included in the 2013-2014 budget that passed by a wide margin in May.

The Superintendent has also made some personnel moves, hiring an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Dr. Wafa Westervelt, and a new Director of Technology, Ryan Meloni. An interim acting administrator previously filled Dr. Westervelt’s position. Dr. Westervelt joins the Port district after serving Freeport for the last four years in a similar role.

All of the district’s principals are returning, but Sheryl Haimovich, who filled in at Guggenheim Elementary for the last six months of the year is moving over to Daly as interim principal. Dr. Mooney is beginning her 14th year in Port, serving as Director of Pupil Personnel Services for eight years and then moving over for four years as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.