Schools look to install buzzer-entry system

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 23, 2013

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Chippewa Valley Schools’ administration is exploring the cost of installing a buzzer-entry system in all of its schools by next school year.

For the rest of the current school year, the administration announced at the Jan. 14 Board of Education meeting that it is hiring unarmed security guards to man the entrances to all of its school buildings. The decision comes in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December. Following the incident, Chippewa Valley Schools used, until last week, its pool of substitute teachers as greeters at every one of its schools. Superintendent Ronald Roberts said it was time the district use those substitutes for teaching again.

“We need those (substitutes) back in the classroom, and that’s where they want to be,” Roberts said. “We need those people back in our substitute-teacher pool.”

Roberts said the guards, much like the ones they currently use to monitor both high schools, would wear uniforms. Although Roberts was not able to say how much the increased number of guards would cost CVS, the security guards will now be monitoring all 17 of the districts buildings.

While the board provided vocal support for increased security and for the buzzer system, Roberts said the decisions did not require its formal vote.

Before settling on the buzzer system, the board battled with the question of how to educate students securely without the building feeling like a prison. The buzzer system, in which a person inside the building would see who is attempting to enter before permitting their entrance, was the least abrasive of the options.

“We could look at that as a more long-term solution,” Roberts said.

Board member Andrew Patzert said it also will be important to educate students on not opening the side doors for anybody.

“Our buildings have many doors,” Patzert said. “I think it’s important we stress to our students not opening the other doors for people.”

Scott Sederlund, the assistant superintendent of business and operations, said even before the Newtown school shooting, CVS had taken simple measures to improve school security. For example, all school buildings have card readers instead of door keys and all visitors must go through the office before having access to the entire building.

“So we have taken steps to secure our buildings,” Sederlund said to the board. “We’re very fortunate with what we have. Now, will it prevent everything? No. It will prevent a lot but not everything.”