Audit shows Marysville schools generally safe
A study by the Marysville Police Department and the Union County Sheriff's Office has shown that Marysville schools are generally safe, but improvements could be made by instituting a few simple changes.
In early January, Superintendent Diane Mankins asked the two agencies to assess the district overall, evaluating its current procedures and policies, and then recommending improvements.
Director of Business Services Mike White presented the findings to the Marysville Board of Education last week.
Safety equipment already in place includes 301 analog cameras located throughout the district and key card access for employees assigned to the newer buildings -- Marysville High School, Northwood Elementary and Bunsold Middle School.
"Sometimes it's difficult to make faces out, but we can see what's going on or we can go back," he said of the images produced by the cameras. "If we feel there's a hot spot, we can switch cameras and monitor those areas. We can monitor, not who's going out, but who's going in the building."
All of the buildings undergo fire inspections and fire drills as well as lockdown drills annually, as required by law. In addition, he said, "safe havens" have been identified in each building where students and staff can hide if they get caught in the hall during an intruder attack.
The district's new buildings were designed with air lock systems, which White said are bonus safety features that other area school districts have noticed.
"We are one of the first schools in central Ohio with air locks," he said.
The system requires visitors to be buzzed into the buildings by an office worker.
White said there are ways to improve safety just by adjusting some behavior. For instance, he said, the doors of some buildings are being propped open, which can be dangerous. In addition, the safety audit indicated it would be better to establish the same safety procedures in all buildings rather than having separate procedures for each, which could create confusion.
He said all district personnel need to be aware that all staff members can call 911.
"First-responders need all the information they can get on what is happening inside a building with an intruder situation," White said.
Staff members should also make sure their school ID badges are visible at all times while in the district, he said.
White suggested the district should develop a visitor identification procedure that could include holding visitors' IDs until they leave and physically escorting visitors to their destinations. Another way to increase safety would be to set up building safety and security committees, he said.
The audit found that it would be a good idea to remove decorative stones, bird baths and benches from building areas because these items can be thrown through glass windows and doors.
Procedures to increase safety that would involve spending money include buying digital cameras for surveillance that cost about $800 apiece, and changing the hardware on classroom and office doors so they can be locked from the inside.
White said the district will continue to work with first-responders and find ways to continuously make buildings safer.
"This will be ongoing. We have to pick the ball up and run with it," he said.