CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove Board of Education is considering a referendum to raise money for safety and security measures in its schools.
The district’s Security Safety Specialist Christopher Kinney presented a plan to the board and the public at the board meeting on Monday, noting it was a collaborative effort between administration, the board, Cedar Grove police and county representatives.
Kinney outlined several measures that a referendum would potentially allow the district to pursue.
Security Vestibules -- North End and South End Schools already have one, but Memorial Middle School and Cedar Grove High School do not.
Door Alarms -- the addition of one on every outside door which would alert if someone is trying to get in or someone is trying to get out.
Door Hardening Enhancements such as night locks and 3M window film designed to slow an intruder down.
Entry Enhancements which would scan IDs and run them through the sex offender database before gaining access to the building.
A generator to backup the main hub -- Currently if power goes out at CGHS, the security systems would also go down.
Upgraded communication systems at North End and South End which are currently “antiquated.”
Wall-mounted gates within the schools allowing for limited access during after school and weekend functions.
Integrated Security Management System -- Kinney specifically mentioned the CLASS system (Crisis Lockdown Alert Status System) which would would work with current infrastructure and connect with police while also giving teachers a communication system.
“The CLASS system give Cedar Grove police instant mapping of the schools and it will check if things are all clear in specific areas,” Kinney explained. “Currently the police do have maps of our buildings but this would incorporate them and give them interaction with those maps. It really is a pretty advanced system that will incorporate all of our systems.”
CLASS would work from any device computer, tablet, phone etc., Kinney said, and there is a mapping grid that would allow teachers to check in which would show their room as green on the map so police would know that classroom was OK.
“As a board obviously we could spend who knows how much money on security so we’re trying to think wisely as far as what are the best things to do that will keep our kids safe while still trying to be fiscally responsible,” Board President Christine Dye said. “So the idea is for the board to decide on the items that Mr. Kinney presented and go out with a referendum in September in order to pay for the security measures.”
Dye noted that the board would have more definite numbers on the costs of these measures at the next board meeting, adding that the board wants to move quickly. She said that raising the money via referendum would cause the least amount of impact to the taxpayers over a period of time.
“We see this happening. There’s no doubt in our minds here that we need to do everything we can to, as Mr. Kinney would say, harden our target and fortify our schools. We’ve been having meeting after meeting talking about what works and what is an efficient use of the public’s funds,” Superintendent of Schools Michael Fetherman said. “We think it’s a modest amount of money to secure the kids and the staff and we think you’ll agree with that. I think we need to do this. I think we have a great plan. We’re working very closely with the police department and we’re on the same page and we are very excited about that.”
Board Vice President Frank Mandala stated that while the board had discussed adding police officers permanently to the buildings, the board decided against it.
“We are not moving forward with that at this time. After discussing it with the police chief the needs is not there based on what we are doing security wise,” Mandala said. “This is going to be costly to do these security measures and we’re going full out. I don’t believe we are skimping in any area. This is not something that we’re taking lightly.”