Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools Superintendent James Heinegg said Monday the district is taking both short and long-term measures to improve security in the wake of a mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school in December.
Heinegg said he has met with administrators as well as police chiefs from both Caldwell and West Caldwell since the Dec. 15 incident in Newtown in which 20 children, as well as teachers and a principal, were killed by a gunman who broke into a school.
The chiefs and the superintendent have toured the buildings in the district looking for and addressing security weaknesses.
Another measure taken was to provide all teachers with keys so they may lock their doors from inside their classrooms.
New entrance doors for several schools—a purchase that was budgeted for before Newtown—will also help address security at the schools, Heinegg said.
For concerned parent Joan Hillman, the new doors can’t arrive soon enough for the school where her daughter attends the district’s kindergarten-enrichment program.
Hillman, a resident of Caldwell, said during the public portion of the meeting Monday that she perceives a lack of security at her child's school, which in addition to the kindergarten-enrichment program houses the pre-k program, administrative offices and the board room.
Unlike other buildings in the district, a front entrance at this building is left unlocked during the day. Visitors are asked to sign in at the main office when they enter.
“Anyone can walk into this building at any time,” Hillman said. “I might not send my kid here anymore. It’s too scary.”
The superintendent said in response that the new doors at her daughter's school will require visitors to be buzzed in after they are screened by security cameras.
Heinegg said while he thinks the children are safe, the district will discuss the possibility of an interim solution until new doors are installed.
“What people do is just as important as what technology is in place,” said Heinegg, who pointed out the crucial role teachers played in Newtown, Conn. in keeping the majority of students safe.
“It’s really going to be a long-term process,” Heinegg said. “There’s always more that can be done.”
The next meeting of the Board of Education will be on Monday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m., at Harrison School in West Caldwell.