HUDSON FALLS -- The school district is upgrading security as a result of last month’s school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
The Hudson Falls district will install a camera, intercom and buzzer system at the main entrance of each of its five school buildings. The work will begin next week and take a day or two to complete, said Superintendent Mark Doody.
Once the changes are made, main entrances will be locked automatically after students are in the building. Visitors will have to stand outside until the buzzer is activated to grant entry.
The intercom and camera will allow employees inside the building to communicate and see visitors.
The main entrance is the only entry into each school because all other exterior doors are locked outside, which is typical for schools.
Doody said it will take time for people to adjust to the new system. He said letters will be sent to parents to inform them of the changes.
“I’m of the opinion that our parents will be supportive even though there may be a slight inconvenience at times,” Doody said. “People certainly understand the need for additional security.”
Doody said the changes were prompted by last month’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six adults died.
Over the holiday break, district officials met with companies about the security upgrades, Doody said.
Each system will cost $1,500, and the district will install five of them. Money from the district’s equipment budget will pay for the improvements, Doody said.
Doody said the cost is low because the district already has the infrastructure.
In addition, the district plans to perform an “intruder drill” at the primary school on Jan. 28. The drill involves police officers who search the building for an intruder.
Doody said the exercise has been done at the middle school and high school buildings. The district wants to eventually do it in each school.
“Police agencies have learned from Newtown that it’s critically important that our staff and students are trained how to conduct themselves in an emergency situation,” Doody said. “We feel it’s important to provide additional training.”
State law requires school districts to conduct fire and lockdown drills each year. But in recent years, some schools have performed more exercises than mandated, or tried new ones, such as the intruder drill at Hudson Falls.
Some local schools in other districts have buzzer systems at main entrances. Others keep one door unlocked, but the entry leads visitors into a main office or a corridor where an employee is there to greet them.
School districts throughout the area have reviewed security procedures, or plan on doing it, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings.