Security cameras, door systems and school resource officers from the police department are a few of the safety measures outlined by Wauwatosa School Superintendent Phil Ertl Monday night in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
At the same time, the school board will begin meeting as a committee of the whole to collect information and tap into the national dialogue on school security.
"I think what we're seeing is a lot of people (on the national level) tossing out very simple solutions to what I see as a very complex problem," Ertl said.
School resource officers are a key element for the district.
"Over the years we've added up to now four full-time school resource officers, and their program is three part, one of them being law enforcement, and … the two, really relating to creating relationships with students and staff and being a presence in the schools," he said. "I think that program has been tremendous."
The district recently spent more than $1 million on security upgrades in the schools, Ertl said.
"Virtually every area in our school district is covered by a camera," he said. "Also, our door system that's in place, that you have to buzz in, we're even making those a little bit tighter, and not having the doors open during certain times during the day."
The district is studying having a single main entrance to the Fisher Building, which houses school administration and a Montessori school, and possibly moving main entrances at the middle schools and at East High School.
"So we're continuing to look at better ways to keep our students safe and our buildings very secure," Ertl said.
Dennis Mahoney, the principal at the Milwaukee County Detention Center, is the administrator in charge of school security, Ertl said.
Mahoney is "keeping track of where we're going and what we're doing and kind of pushing everybody to make sure that we're up to date in our security plans, up to date on evacuation plans, making sure we're practicing our drills," Ertl said.
Ertl noted that last year, with the fire department and the police department, the school system took part in a mock shooting drill involving students. Center Street was blocked off for the drill.
Ertl was impressed with the training and professionalism of the police and fire departments.
He said he will track ongoing developments and methods related to school security.
The committee of the whole meetings on school safety will be led by board members Sharon Muehlfeld and Mary Jo Randall and will take place at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays, immediately before the regular school board meetings.
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