Deerfield school districts bump up safety procedurees
Students arrive at Caruso Middle School Monday after a tentative contract settlement between District 109 and the Deerfield Teachers Association. | Stacia Timonere~for Sun Times Media
Updated: December 28, 2012 11:02AM
DEERFIELD — School security procedures are getting a second-look, and some overhauling, at Deerfield’s two public school districts, making it more difficult for just anyone to gain access inside the schools.
Both Deerfield Public Schools District 109 and Township High School District 113 have held meetings since the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. to make sure its students are safe.
In District 113, that includes building modifications.
According to an e-mail sent to District 113 parents, the district is working with its architectural firm Perkins + Will to add an additional vestibule that visitors must pass through and get approved before entering the high schools’ main buildings. Hallway management and added security cameras were also suggested, according to the e-mail.
“Our staff members wear name tags; all visitors are required to sign-in and obtain a visitor’s pass,” District 113 Superintendent George Fornero said. “There is limited access to our buildings during school hours and unlocked entrances are staffed by trained school personnel.”
In a similar e-mail sent out to parents of elementary and middle-school students in District 109, where Supt. Renee Goier stated that several north shore school districts met Tuesday, Dec. 18 to collectively discuss safety protocol.
“Each district developed a plan to review once again the safety policies and procedures the school districts have in place with their respective law enforcement officials,” Goier said.
Deerfield police chief John Sliozis assured the group that safety plans of the schools and community are “very solid.”
“Chief Sliozis said that, in a crisis, his department could quickly call on extensive resources to respond,” Goier said.
Deerfield’s affiliation with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System, Goier said, can enable the Deerfield police to possibly triple its resources and “have officers on site within minutes.”
Goier also said the district will increase its communication with staff and students about “strict enforcement” of safety policies and procedures, though she did not outline the details.
Both superintendents said they are working closely with the Deerfield and Highland Park police departments as Goier said the Deerfield police has increased its squad car patrols around the district’s six schools, while Fornero said the relationship between District 113 and the police departments is “extraordinary.”
Deerfield deputy police chief Tom Keane said his department is working with the schools to reinforce plans that have already been in place.
“We’re working to make sure we are prepared,” Keane said. “We have increased police presence around the schools, but we have a little bit of a break coming up for the holidays, so we will evaluate how everything has been going.”
Keane said the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System dispatches “mutual aid” in case of a major incident, enabling surrounding police departments to respond.
“You make one phone call,” Keane said. “As more help is needed, more help goes out.”
Going forward, Keane said his department will continue to keep an active presence in areas around the schools.
District 113 covers 3,695 students at Deerfield High School and Highland Park High School, according to district officials. District 109 consists of approximately 3,100 students at four elementary schools, Walden, Kipling, South Park and Wilmot, and two middle schools, Caruso and Shepard, according to district officials.