School Safety Given Top Priority in Montclair School District Through Grant Award

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Public School District announced Tuesday that funding received through a grant from the state of New Jersey will be applied to ongoing security upgrades of each of its 11 schools.

Secured through the joint efforts of Superintendent Penny MacCormack, Chief Operating Officer Brian Fleischer and support by the Board of Education, funds will now provide each school with state-of-the-art video technology, card control door access and the installation of modern duress devices to better communicate potential safety and medical situations.  

Tuesday's announcement demonstrates the district’s ongoing commitment to modernize safety equipment and fully train all personnel to ensure students are safe. In December 2012, shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., a full review of all school safety procedures, security resources and district wide emergency protocols was conducted under the leadership of the superintendent involving school principals and the district security consultant. Since the review, security upgrades have been ongoing and unified security processes established throughout the district. As outlined in the climate survey, released by the district last month, the new systems now in place have yielded significant results, with 95 percent of elementary students and 91 percent of middle school students stating that they know what to do in the event of a school emergency.

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“The protocols and systems the district had in place needed to be modernized,” said MacCormack. “Our world is changing every day and we must make sure the environment and climate of our schools and classrooms are safe.  When we realized the work that needed to be done to make this a reality, the district office, our principals and staff rolled up their sleeves and got to work. These are budget-tight times, so we looked at the issue creatively and fought hard to bring Trenton dollars back to the district.”

“The safety and security of our students must remain our highest priority,” said School Board President David Deutsch. “Like any school district, we must modernize with the times. The work of the Dr. MacCormack, Mr. Fleischer and each of our school principals has been outstanding. What is most telling from the changes we have made already is that our students feel safe. That is most important.”

“For too long our schools have had outdated security systems in place,” stated Montclair High School Principal James Earle. “While card control doors and modern duress devices in case of an emergency are mainstays in most schools in New Jersey, we have lacked them in Montclair for some time. Dr. MacCormack and the District listened to our concerns, made improving our security a priority and fought for the funding. Together, we have improved our infrastructure while also unifying emergency protocols across the district.”

Tuesday's announcement comes in conjunction with a series of initiatives that have been implemented in the last year under the district’s strategic plan, which was voted unanimously by the Board of Education, 7-0, in 2013. Under the direction of the Strategic Plan’s Goal #3 – “Highly Effective Central Services Support to Schools,” and Goal #5 “Effective and Accountable Leadership,” the District initiated discussion and review of all current security protocols.  In hopes of creating the greatest financial efficiencies and enticing the most competitive and cost-effective contractor(s) to implement the improvements, the District plans to solicit the work using multiple bids, publicize them this winter and implement in the summer of 2015. 

For a complete review of the climate survey, web users can access the results on the school district website.

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