Emporia School District Looking To Beef Up Security

By: Sarah Plake Email
By: Sarah Plake Email

EMPORIA, Kansas (WIBW) -- The Emporia School Board met Wednesday evening to hear a set of new recommendations aimed at making students and faculty feel safer.

"That is not a time for people to learn on the job, in a crisis," Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Andy Koenigs said Wednesday night, emphasizing the district's need to prepare more.

The Emporia School District said it would be a nightmare if it were unprepared, should a dangerous incident ever happen at one of its schools.

The school board heard the first of six recommendations to beef up security and execute more emergency training.

"I feel like Emporia schools are very safe and secure," Koenigs said, "parents have said they feel their student is safe, but we want to ensure we are prepared, well-positioned in case of a crisis."

The recommendations will be presented to the board in phases. The first, heard tonight, includes more security cameras, alarms and a guard to patrol the elementary schools.

In December the board decided to arm the security guards that patrol at the high school and middle school. There is no guard that regularly visits the elementary schools.

"We want kids and our staff to know exactly what the procedure would be if some scenario occurred, and practice is what makes that happen," Communication Relations Director Nancy Horst said.

Teachers, media and members of the fire and police departments make up the committee that put forth the recommendations.

Horst said the committee looked at the entire scope of the district's emergency preparedenss.

The other five recommendations cover areas like safety drills, evacuation plans, secured entrances and visitor check-ins, parent reunifications plans and more.

Installing FEMA shelters in all 11 of the district's buildings also is considered, which could cost a significant amount of money.

The plans are not limited to what would happen should an intruder break in. Horst said the committee considered drills for severe weather, storms - even what would happen if there was a chemical spill.

"The committee, I think, did a good job of identifying the major initiatives where we could fill in the gaps, where we have some areas we could work on," Koenigs said.

The board did not decide on or act on any of the recommendations Wednesday.

They'll hear the other five phases of recommendations over the next several weeks, and decide next months which parts they can implement.

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