Bloomfield schools have many safety measures already in place, but Superintendent Jason Bing said he wants to improve them and bring the district into the 21st century.
The superintendent addressed both current and prospective school safety measures on Wednesday night to a crowd of nearly 30 parents, township and school administrators, and police officers at Bloomfield High School. The bottom line, said Bing, is making students and staff feel safe.
“When students feel safe, they learn better,” said Bing. “When staff feel safe, they teach better. ... That’s the bottom line.”
Bing said the district is currently doing a lot of things right. Present safety measures include:
- 24/7 lockdown of all doors in all schools
- Video surveillance in all schools
- Video visitor system in all schools
- A student resource officer in the high school
- A student resource officer in the middle school
- Daily patrols by the Bloomfield Police Department in all schools
- Trained staff
- NIXLE, a phone texting system to issue alerts
- WeTip, an anonymous hotline for anyone to report problems
Many of these current practices, Bing added, has helped make the Bloomfield school district the seventh safest district in Essex County when it comes to violence; fifth safest in regards to weapon incidents; and third safest with respect to substance abuse, according to state numbers.
“These are really good numbers,” said Bing. “We always look to improve these numbers ....”
With the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and eight adults were gunned down, people in Bloomfield and across the country are taking a closer look at how they can improve school safety.
Bing said that budget constraints in past years have allowed some investments to lapse.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that our facilities are where they should be,” Bing said. “Anyone can tell you over the last 10 years by looking at the budget that facility improvements have been cut.”
Bing listed various safety measures the district is considering investing in, including:
- A panic button system
- Swipe-card systems for staff members
- License identification systems upon entering the school
- Emergency training for substitutes
- Greeters at elementary schools
- Security at after school, night and weekend events
Improvements and added security will depend on funding. The district is currently working on next year’s budget, and will determine in two or three months which safety measures will be invested in.
But Bing assures parents investments will be made.
“We are going to put safety into this budget,” said Bing “... We are going to move forward and do that.”
Some residents, however, said they believed no parent would argue with the cost of safety.
“I don’t think parents are going to say no to provide money to have officers in the schools,” said resident Cesar Camacho.
Resident Tania Enders added, “If it is a matter of funding, I do think the parents would step up to the plate and offer extra donations to the [Home and School Association] so that [new measures] could be supported.”