No new security measures for city schools

Springfield police chief, superintendent present school security update and wait for federal action.

Some have suggested that the best way to deter or neutralize future shooters is by putting guns in the hands of school faculty.

“At this point we think it’s important, before we do anything dramatic like provide lethal weapons to our staff, that we see what the landscape is going to be, what the parameters are that are established by the state and federal governments,” Superintendent David Estrop said.

The recommendation was made to the board of education during a security presentation given jointly with Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody on Thursday night.

“We certainly don’t want to anticipate or do something only to find out after the fact that, no, we can’t do that,” Estrop said. “It’s a waste of time and energy.”

Estrop and Moody reassured parents and students that security systems and plans of action with law enforcement and emergency personnel, which have been in place for years, continue to be refined through upgrades and repeated training and drills.

Springfield school buildings have a variety of security systems like door buzzers with cameras, security cameras inside and out, and uniformed Springfield police officers. Students and staff practice lockdown drills.

And the district hopes to upgrade its security systems and student safety features at its schools by going to voters in spring for a “no new millage” 2.2-mill bond levy.

Board members unanimously approved the issue be put on the May ballot at their meeting.

District Treasurer Christopher Mohr explained that if voters approve the nearly $14 million bond issue, they wouldn’t see an increase in their property taxes next year.

The district has 2.43 mills currently on tax bills that will expire at the end of the year, and the bond issue would allow the district to continue receiving that money.

More than $1 million would go to improvements in school building security cameras and another $3.1 million would go to re-working traffic flow at schools. Other funds would also renovate and improve facilities and acquire school buses.

Traffic and safety became a concern when more parents dropped their children off as busing cuts marked the district’s fiscal emergency years. School driveways weren’t originally designed to handle that volume, according to Mohr.

“We think we’re providing good value for the money,” Mohr said.

While waiting on direction from the state and federal governments, Estrop pleaded this: If there are additional requirements and mandates, provide the resources to make that happen, and give local governments some discretion on how they implement that.

While officers and emergency personnel train for potential active shooter situations, which have become more frequent in recent years, the best policy is to report anything suspicious to authorities, Moody said.

“Ninety-three percent of the attackers in history involved in such incidents … have exhibited some type of behavior that caused alarm to people around them before they began their attack,” Moody said. “”If it doesn’t look right, if it doesn’t feel right, then say something.”

“We need to set the example, bottom line, so the parents, son or daughter can walk back in that house that evening after school,” Moody said.