By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
As Bowling Green City Schools students went back to school today, they entered buildings that had been made safer over the summer.
Superintendent Francis Scruci reported to the Board of Education Tuesday evening that several changes have been made and are in progress to keep students and staff safe from intruders.
All school entrance doors have had 3M safety film installed. The change is not visible to the eye, but the film is designed to slow down anyone trying to break through the doors. According to Scruci, the safety film takes about three minutes to break through – which gives people inside the school time to seek safety and notify law enforcement.
Ballistic shields have been added to the large windows in the middle school cafeteria.
The district also made some changes in the new wing added at the middle school. Rather than have locker bays in the hallways, which give intruders a place to hide, the new wing has all the lockers lining the hallway walls. Also, the outside doors into the new wing are solid – with no windows.
“We’ve taken some steps to make that a little safer,” Scruci said.
In order make other school entrances more safe, bushes were removed or cut back outside school buildings.
The district is in the process of installing indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras at the buildings, he said.
Plans are being made with the Bowling Green police and fire divisions to make weekly walks through the school buildings – in addition to unscheduled visits.
A security meeting is being planned with school staff, police and fire personnel, to talk about some type of safety training at the schools. That training may be on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) system, or some other safety program.
Scruci and the district’s head of school building maintenance, Chuck Martin, recently attended a seminar on safety and security. Many of the ideas from the seminar had already been identified and were being worked on at the district’s buildings, Scruci said.
Scruci said he will be looking for grant funding for safety measures. However, he added, “if they’re just one-time grants, then the district is going to have to sustain it.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci reported on capital improvements made to school buildings during the summer.
At Kenwood, the floor of the gymnasium was replaced, and any asbestos was removed. Several carpeted classroom floors were replaced at Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries. The district also replaced one boiler system.
The custodial staff was praised for keeping the middle school looking good, despite all the construction nearby at the new wing being added on.
Scruci also mentioned that the district brought back an old tradition before school began, of having some teachers ride a school bus for nearly 90 minutes throughout the district. The experience helps the staff understand the journey some students take every day, plus gives them an idea of why school might be delayed or canceled when the weather conditions in the city seem fine, Scruci said.