By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — Schools are open and safety is key.
New school security measures are up and running throughout the district.
Voters agreed last March to spend $170,000 to keep students safer.
Prior to opening day, crews worked for weeks to bring all the added safety upgrades online. That included adding a district-wide card access system, training for staff, and door monitoring/sensor systems.
Staff will use updated key fobs and identification to access their schools.
Facilities director Chuck Zappala said the majority of the work is done and equipment is in place.
Upgrades also include panic buttons.
“They are working well,” Zappala said.
He said those devices require testing prior to being operational.
Installing most of the new security features took time.
“It was a very tedious process,” Zappala said. “It also took a lot of time to program.”
School Board members wanted to know just how long it took once the panic button was hit before emergency crews showed up at the school.
Zappala said the panic buttons were tested and the initial time-frame from school call to police was about four minutes.
That was too long for some.
“That’s just too much time,” School Board member John Robinson said. “Four minutes is a long time. We need to figure out how to reduce that as much as possible.”
Robinson said police should get there “in an instant.”
Right now, once the button is hit, the message goes to a dispatcher, who will send police in the case of an emergency.
The district also will have access to two-way radio systems, with devices at each school building and also in the school district office.
The range of communication is great, Zappala said.
Superintendent Nathan Greenberg credited the staff who worked hard on getting the security upgrades in place in time for the new year.
He said it was a huge amount of work.
“When you think about it, it’s 80,000 feet of wire, and (you have to program) all the key fobs, it’s commendable,” he said.