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Salem High School Board Discusses Security Improvement Efforts

By Will Doolin, WJBD News

The Salem Community High School board and administration discussed efforts to improve security at Tuesday night's board meeting.  Principal John Boles says outside doors to the schools are now kept locked until 7:15 in the morning to assure adequate staff are present before students enter the building.  He notes a number of safety exercises have been completed and more planned.  

"Pretty much every drill from the entire faculty and staff with the tactical unit team coming in and providing ways to deal with an armed intruder.  We've done it with the students present.  We've done it with just the faculty, and our next steps would be to practice those gray areas like passing period or lunch time or something like that", said Boles.  

Boles says the school is challenged to keep many of the doors locked due to not all the classes being held in the main building.  "We're trying to keep the school as safe as we can, but not be an inconvience for the students because our campus across the street is so spread out and we only have four-minute passing periods.  So it's a pretty delicate balance.  School safety is number one, but then the daily operations of the school, you want to minimize distractions for that as well", said Boles.

Boles reported students were recently surveyed on safety issues.  One of the questions was how safe they felt at school.  On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, most of the responses fell in the 7 to 10 range.  Only 40-percent of the students felt metal detectors would make them feel safer.  They were split on if they favored administrators carrying guns.  Nearly 99-percent said they understood the Code Red Drill procedures that would be followed if there was an intruder in the building.   

Some of the students suggested having classroom doors that locked from the inside.  Boles agrees it would be a nice step to take, but would also be an expensive one.  Another idea the board discussed was locking all the outside doors at the rear of the building except at times students are changing classes and having a teacher or police school resource officer monitor traffic in and out of the doors.   

Boles is adamantly opposed to administrators carrying guns.  He feels there are so many things that can go wrong and accidents happen.  Boles also fears someone unauthorized gaining control of the gun.  

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