Rochester, N.Y. – Schools are safer than ever, local school officials agree. But after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, they’re reviewing their safety procedures.
Churchville-Chili Superintendent Pam Kissel has a thick binder full of the district’s safety procedures. Students and staff practice a total of 20 fire drills, general lockdowns and emergency lockdowns every school year.
“Our schools are safe. These incidents are very, very rare. But nonetheless it’s real and we can’t take it for granted that we have our children to protect,” said Dr. Kissel. “We have to do everything we possibly can to prevent such a thing happening to any of our students or any of our schools.”
The doors at Churchville-Chili’s entrances are locked. Visitors have to look into a camera and get buzzed in. District voters recently approved a capital project that will reconfigure the entrance and add cameras to an elementary school.
“I wish I could say that we can prevent any possible scenario,” said Dr. Kissel. “I think when you look at automatic weapons, that’s of great concern.”
“I don’t think the school could have done anything to prevent what happened,” said parent Michael Colletti.
Churchville-Chili does not have police officers in school. There are unarmed security guards.
“We have wrestled with those questions ourselves,” said Dr. Kissel. “We want to balance safety with a welcoming environment.”
Webster also does not have police officers in school.
“We can’t become a jail and we can’t become the airlines from a practical standpoint very easily,” said Neil Flood, a former Sheriff’s major and director of security. “It’s trying to work the balance, but we’re talking about the safety of our children. You can’t put a price on that either.”
Flood is reviewing the district’s safety plans and met with Webster police on Monday.
“It’s now being reported the individual actually smashed the window to enter that building. From what I’ve seen [the staff in] that building was very well trained and had practiced their plans and had a very good security system,” Flood said. “If an individual is determined to do that much evil, I’m not sure as a society what we can do.”