The following note was released on Dec. 21 by Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith, again responding to the concerns of local parents and school staff and promising more analysis to come. Today is the first day Sandy Hook elementary students return to school, albeit a different one. In Mamaroneck schools are on lockdown this afternoon after a suspicous incident.
At a time of year when we are normally in a festive mood, we have instead been struggling to deal with an unimaginable tragedy. We have been reminded that if our schools are not safe, all that we try to accomplish with our students academically is of little consequence. Yet even as the burden for the safety of our students grows heavier for us, we have been buoyed up by the irrepressible energy and optimism of youth. It leaves us feeling more determined than ever to ensure that our schools are as safe as our students think they are.
To that end, we are taking a short and a longer term approach. This week we have been evaluating all of our existing systems and procedures to make sure they are working properly and we have been gathering input from staff, parents, other school districts, and the law enforcement community regarding ways of improving school security. After the holiday break, the issues identified through this process will be organized by category and reviewed, ultimately with staff and parent involvement. This will result in an action plan regarding any new systems and procedures that we determine need to be initiated going forward.
We face many dilemmas as we consider changes in approaches to security, given that one of the hallmarks of a good school is that it is characterized by a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. We will need to distinguish between measures that might only create the illusion of increased safety and security and measures that would actually accomplish that objective. Given that tighter security generates inconveniences that tend to wear down resolve over time, we will have to take an honest look at what measures would be sustainable as well. This will require some thoughtful conversations that I am looking forward to having.
I have been reminded throughout the week of the care and compassion that makes our community such a special place. Thanks to all of you who have had our children and our staff in your thoughts and prayers. I hope that you will be able to experience at least a few moments of peace and tranquility over the holidays and that you will be able to find some extra comfort and joy in any time you have with your loved ones.
Howard W. Smith Superintendent of Schools
What suggestions would you make, both long and short term, to upgrade school security in our system? Tell us in the comments.