School security is not a new issue, but new attention has been paid since last December's shootings in Newtown.
"We know we need to make an effort," Knoxville Schools Superintendent Randy Flack told the school board.
Flack has been working with a group to identify potential ways to improve security around school buildings. Recommendations, as listed below, were made to the board, which members agreed should be implemented. They include:
• Removing "hiding places" (shrubs and trees) around school buildings and facilities.
• Repairing/Replacing exterior doors that are not secure when shut and locked, due to age and condition.
• Begin exchanging door knobs with those that can lock from both sides (will take 2-3 years).
• Requiring all visitors to check in at the office and wear easily seen identification.
• Reviewing crisis management plans and practice with students and staff.
• Continuing efforts to prevent bullying and harassment.
• Keeping exterior doors locked, except for the main entrance.
• Keeping classroom doors locked at all times.
The board also discussed the installation of an electronic "key card" system at each building, to be used by employees. Board member Tim McDonald said he prefers a "key card" system to standard keys, which can be duplicated. He would like to see some of these safety improvements made quickly.
Questions still remain regarding open campus periods at the high school and how to monitor students returning. The board did not seem to favor installing security cameras at the main entrance doors and implementing a "buzz-in" system at each building.