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District continues focus on safety and security enhancements

School may have been out for the summer, but Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials did not take a break from safety and security planning for the 2018-19 school year and beyond.

In July, the F-M Board of Education hired two security firms to conduct full audits of the district, focusing in four key areas: access to school district buildings and grounds, surveillance, communications and emergency management plans.

“It’s always a good thing to have an outside, unbiased look at the way we do things, especially two companies that have conducted audits for school districts across the country so they can bring to light best practices,” said William Furlong, F-M’s assistant superintendent for business services.

True Security Design in Suffolk County and CLPS in Westchester County are both expected to complete their work by October. Their findings will be turned over to a community task force that the board plans to establish in September.

The group will be made up of representatives from across the district, including community members, who will review the audit and prioritize recommendations to the board prior to final 2019-2020 budget development.

A number of enhancements took place during the summer related to building access and security, such as adding additional security cameras across the district. Some doors typically not used as entrances now have cameras and alarms.

“It would be a very early warning that a door is being used that should not be,” Mr. Furlong said.

This summer the district added a third police officer to its School Information and Resource Officer Program who will primarily work with students and staff at Enders Road Elementary and Eagle Hill Middle School. The district now has three full-time Manlius police officers based in its schools, with each officer assigned primarily to two schools so they can build relationships with those buildings’ students and staff.

The district has taken steps to increase the safety and security of its buildings in previous school years, including designating single-point of entries at all school buildings, locking school building doors during regular school hours and launching the SIRO program in partnership with the Town of Manlius Police Department.

For 2018-19, the district has assigned a Home-School Liaison at each building level to foster better engagement between school officials and parents and students who are identified as needing extra support or at-risk.

“Our mission compels us to seek continuous improvement in establishing and maintaining a positive school environment, which includes safety and security,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “To do so, we are looking at a multi-faceted approach and consulting with experts from inside and outside our school community so as to best position our students, staff and community members who visit our facilities.”

There will be additional safety and security staff training in 2018-19 to build upon trainings that have already taken place. During the 2016-17 school year, staff completed level one active shooter training, and on March 29, the district held its annual go home early drill on a half-day schedule so that all staff could participate in level two training, which focused on what employees should do in the event of an active shooter in a district building.