The Harbinger Online

The New Normal

After receiving $223 million from a bond, the Shawnee Mission School District has set in motion improvements for all of the district’s schools. According to election results, 83% of the Shawnee Mission residents who voted, voted for the passage of the Local Option Budget bond (LOB), which is intended to fund infrastructure, maintenance and security.

To a student, the pertinence of the construction means a repaired air conditioning system and a lunchroom under construction, but to SRO Officer Chad Boling, the importance lies in the updated security.

“It’s just time,” Boling said. “We had so many schools in the district that you could just literally walk into. With all the national media and all of the school shootings, you have to make it a lot harder for people to get in.”

According to Boling, security enhancements have been made to all other SMSD schools as well. At East, the enhancements range from the construction of the new front entrance, the installation of video cameras and Raptor security system, to the issuing of student security ID cards. Although Principal John McKinney and Boling don’t expect some elements of the security to be fully implemented until October, some aspects are already in full play.

The removal of the front circle drive and the addition of the new front entrance work towards the same goal– to create a pinch point. During the school day, the front entrance will be the only unlocked entrance to the school, forcing any visitor, or student, to pass through.

“The purpose of the secured entrance is to monitor who is in the building, for what purpose they’re in the building and how long they’re in the building,” McKinney said. “ We do that at the front end versus stopping them in the hallway.”

But the front entrance isn’t just an extension of the office- it’s a whole different branch. Equipped with a full-time police officer, the Raptor security system and auto-lock doors, the new entrance is the moat and drawbridge to the fortress. Any visitor that wants to gain access to the school has to be checked by the Raptor, a system McKinney says is used in hospitals and government buildings.

“If a visitor comes into the school, they have to have a photo ID,” Police Lieutenant for SMSD Mark Schmidt said. “It’s run through the Raptor system, and it checks any public records that would indicate if they’re a sexual or violent offender. “It’s updated every week.”

The front entrance was also designed to handle a threat coming through the door. According to Boling, the pinch point allows a potential offender to be completely locked in the front entrance until officers can respond.

Along with the front entrance, all other entrances have been resecured. Each one is now monitored by new, HD video cameras, all of which can be accessed by the front officer. Photo ID cameras, dubbed ‘scanners,’ will be operating by October, McKinney and Boling predict.

“You’re going to have to show your ID to a chest-level camera if you’re at a different door, and that front officer can buzz you in. That’s only going to happen after the start of school to 2:40,” Boling said.

Both the police officers and the administration stress the importance of students carrying their student IDs. Not only will these help SROs and admin identify who is a student, but will give the students easier access through the doors, Schmidt explains.

The doors will also be equipped with auto-locks and sensors, which will work hand-in-hand with the security cameras.

“If it appears that the door was propped open because you’re bringing a bunch of boxes in for something, that’s fine, but if we can’t determine why it’s open we’re going to look at video,” Schmidt said. “It makes the building much more secure than it was a year ago.”

Not only are the district’s schools more secure than they were in previous years, they are, according to Schmidt, “on the cutting edge of what’s being done, security wise, across the nation.”

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