Schools’ new security system almost ready

Installation of the new security system at New Prague Area Schools is nearly complete, and the schools are expected to “go live” and implement changes to its security system as early as Monday, Oct. 21, according to Craig Most, director of buildings and grounds for the district.

The changes are a result of a security assessment the district completed over the summer. An Aiphone system is being installed in each of the district’s five school buildings as well as the Central Education Campus, which houses sixth grade students, the Alternative Learning Center and other special education programming.

All of the elementary buildings had received the necessary upgrades, and this week crews would be installing the system at the high school, middle school and CEC. “Once everything is installed, we’ll get the system fired up,” Most said.

The new system will bring changes in how visitors are admitted to the buildings during the school day. All doors to the building will be locked after the start of the school day. The Aiphone system will require all visitors to ring a buzzer located on an outside station near the front entrance to the building. There will be a remote monitor base station located within the office for clerical staff to view and communicate with the person attempting to gain access. The visitor will be directed to the office and will be required to show a picture ID and sign in.

The ID will be held by the office staff until the end of the visit. Visitors will no longer be issued a red “Visitor” sticker. Instead, they will be given a color coded visitor pass with a matching color coded lanyard. Each building will have a different assigned color. This will eliminate any “cross” visiting that may occur between buildings.

The visitor will be required to sign out and return the lanyard at the conclusion of their visit. At that time their picture ID will be returned to them. There was concern locally and nationally about school security after shooting incidents elsewhere in the US and after a false report of a school shooting put New Prague Middle School in a lockdown last spring.

“After listening to staff and parents last spring, we realize we needed to increase our security to reassure parents that school is a safe place,” said Superintendent Tim Dittberner. “We are working hard to balance between having the schools be a welcoming environment and still having good security.”

He said Belle Plaine has a similar system in place and they report it has worked well. St. Wenceslaus also put in a similar system last spring. “More and more schools are going to these systems,” Dittberner added.

Information on the new system was sent to district parents in an email last month, and more information will be available during the parent conferences scheduled for next week.

The changes are a response to several shootings and other incidents that have happened nationwide over the past few years. Schools throughout the nation are implementing similar procedures.