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Croton Schools Make Security Changes after Sandy Hook Tragedy

The district has stepped up efforts to monitor its buildings following last week's tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Even though Newtown, Conn. is about 50 miles away, the effects of last week’s tragedy are readily visible in the Croton-Harmon school district.

The high school, which operates as an open campus, is now monitored more heavily. The front entrance of the Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School used to remain open during the day. It is now closed during school hours.

“We’ve increased police patrols around our schools, with the cooperation of the local police department, and our central office has been working with building administrator to help reassure the students and the staff,” said Edward Fuhrman, superintendent of Croton-Harmon schools.

 Prior to last week’s incident, Fuhrman said the school district had begun a security audit of the districts buildings. The Altaris Consulting Group is the firm conducting the audit.

“They do a lot of work for municipalities and school districts and this is their specialty,” Fuhrman said. “The board of education voted to provide funds for this during the summer and we had some conversation at the beginning of the school year. Now, we’re actively involved in doing the audit and looking at our procedures, best practices, hardware and other things from a security point of view.”

Security changes were made at the Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School last spring, according to Fuhrman. The school now has a buzzer system with camera and all the doors are locked during the school day. Dismissal areas were also set up in more visible spaces.

Fuhrman said district staff haven't had formal talks with elementary students about the incident and have decided to let parents lead those discussions.

“For the older children, we have tried to answer questions as they come up,” Fuhrman said.

Fuhrman said he was unsure how long the district’s security changes will stay in place.

“We’re going to continue for the rest of the week and then we’ll go on break,” Fuhrman said. “We’ll continue to assess things while we’re on break.”

Andrea Furey, president of the Croton-Harmon school, said the school board would make a statement about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy during its first meeting of the new year.

Jim December 19, 2012 at 01:18 PM
It's indeed unfortunate, but necessary that these measures are being taken. Children, as well as adults shouldn't have to live in fear. Learning requires a certain amount of focus and attentiveness, which will be comprised, when we are all looking over our shoulder, and wondering if a deranged person is going to burst through the door any minute firing their semi-automatic assault rifle. Upgrading security measures is a very important precaution, however, of course, mental and psychological wellness of children and adults, is also a very important aspect in slowing and hopefully preventing these tragic incidents of rage, death and suffering.
Myra Oney December 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM
What a shame that we have come to a place where our schools turn into lock downs and much of the population walks around in fear because you never know who has a gun and how they might use it? Gun ownership is seen as a constitutional right. It is a right whose usefulness in a civilized society has come to an end. What about the right to to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the majority of the population who does not and will not own a gun? It is not right to put us and our children in a prison of fear so that people can own guns.
joshua tanner December 19, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Guns have been a central reason for your security. People smarter than both of us set up a gov where the citizens themselves and not the gov are the ultimate power and thats why they have a right to guns. if you have a fear of guns that would be irrational. I doubt "much of the population walks around in fear" because of guns. Most people have never even seen a shooting. Its criminals who use guns the most and they dont care about laws. If your so scared you should get a gun maybe. If Americans in the prior centures were as soft and timid as some people posting here the US wouldn't have existed
Teleman December 19, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I am glad these changes were put into place. I have a family member who works in the schools and parents were allowed to come and go as they wished throughout the school buildings. We could not believe this was allowed to happen. Going forward we need to learn from our mistakes and take meaningful steps toward making these places safer. The tidy notion that we can just remove the over 200 million firearms that are already in posession of the American public is an unrealistic non-starter. Recognizing that there are bad and mentally defective people out there and defending against them is a good start.

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