RYE, N.Y. – The Rye City School District is taking steps to ensure safety at each school, beginning with adding security guards to each elementary school.
Parents of children at Rye’s three elementary schools – Osborn, Milton and Midland – will notice that each campus will have security guards that are expected to remain for at least the duration of the school year.
Security guards are already placed at the middle and high school campus. The Board of Education approved a contract amendment with NJB Security Services Inc. to extend to the additional school campuses at its meeting Wednesday night.
Rye Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez said the district is re-examining its emergency management plans following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“It gives us pause to think that things can happen in communities that actually look very much like ours, and that’s part of what makes it very scary,” said Alvarez at the meeting. “It’s time for us to look back and reflect on what our procedures are and what it is we do as a school district to ensure our children’s safety, which is really the primary goal on a day-to-day basis.”
Emergency management drills are conducted at each school every year throughout the course of the year, but, Alvarez said, simply doing the drills is not enough.
“The effective piece when you do a drill is not saying ‘Gee, this went well,' but, ‘here are the three things you can do differently,’” he said. “That’s how you begin to learn and that’s how you begin to change.”
In addition to added security at the elementary level, Alvarez suggested creating advocacy through support of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents' Call for Action. The letter, signed by by 78 superintendents in the council, calls for state and federal legislators to “immediately enact stricter gun control legislation.”
The board subsequently approved a resolution requesting legislation reform with regard to a ban on assault weapons and increasing access to mental health care services for the schools.
The board also approved a proposal for emergency management planning consultant services from Stonegate Associates, following Alvarez’s recommendation that the district re-examine its current plan as well as drills to see what can and should be done differently.
“This is really not what we train to do, but we are all, unfortunately, becoming experts in emergency management,” said Alvarez.