Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 23, 2013

Keeping school kids even safer

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Classes might be out for the holidays, but a measure to keep students even safer at all of Pauls Valley’s schools is already well underway.

Beefing up security at the local schools is the idea as each site, from all three elementary schools all the way through Pauls Valley High School, is getting some attention at the front entrances.

It all centers around exterior doors at the schools, namely the front doors as each entrance is being locked and equipped with a camera that allows staff to see who’s there before they come inside.

The school district’s top administrator says the higher security is something being looked at for some time now.

“We’ve been considering this for some time,” said school Superintendent Darsha Huckabaa.

“We feel it’s our job to create a safe learning environment for the kids,” she said. “Any steps we can take to keep the kids safe, we try to make.

“The responses we’re getting from parents are very positive. It gives parents the security of knowing that we’re doing what we can to keep their kids safe.”

With many of the schools already done, the way it works is visitors to the schools can no longer just walk in through the front doors.

When someone wants inside they have to push a button.

Each front entrance will have a camera allowing staff to see who’s there before they hit the button allowing permission to come inside the school.

“There’s a video camera where the office staff can see and talk to visitors from the main office without having to go to the front door,” Huckabaa said.

These increased security efforts actually got started last year.

So far a few of the schools have been completed — Jefferson Early Learning Center, both Jackson and Lee elementary schools and the local alternative education facility.

Next up are the junior and senior high school buildings, Huckabaa said.

Some of the upgrades are being paid for from the school district’s building fund.

Part of it is also coming from the extra funds of a school bond issue passed by local voters back in 2011.

The cost is estimated at around $5,500 for each school site.

The measure also calls for all other exterior doors at the schools to be locked, while at the high school teachers are to monitor the doors in between classes allowing students access.

Another part of the increased security are additional camera systems allowing school officials to keep a close eye on school property any time of day or night.

“We have security cameras at every site, both inside and out,” Huckabaa said.

“We’re adding new cameras as money becomes available.”

If a theft or vandalism occurs after hours at any of the school sites those cameras might help catch the culprits and lead law enforcement right to them, she added.