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September 10. 2013 9:22PM

Nashua schools adopt security policy

NASHUA — The school board approved an updated set of security procedures to control and track visitors to the district's school buildings.

The new procedures were adopted as part of Nashua's $2.4 million security upgrade for schools that includes alarms, video monitors, new locks and buzz-in intercom camera system at the main entrance of each building.

Board of Education member William Mosher said many of the basic safety procedures were already in place.

"We've tightened everything up and made it official school policy," said Mosher, who added that about 90 percent of the equipment upgrades are complete.

"We really put these procedures to the test," said BOE member Thomas Vaughan, chairman of the Policy Committee, which revamped the procedures. "This policy lays down keys things about badges, visitor ID's and contractor ID's."

Nashua has been working to improve school security for several years. A 2009 proposal, which was the result of a security audit, was vetoed by Mayor Donna Lozeau because of a $3 million school deficit that year.

But in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, during which 20 elementary students were killed, Nashua, like school districts around the country, made security a priority.

Buzz-in intercom systems and cameras at school entrances will allow school staff to control who enters a building, to ask for identification if there are concerns and to contact police if they feel there are any risks or threats.

Parents and others visiting school buildings will still sign in and wear visitor badges while in the building but the new procedures also stress the importance of signing out. Schools will maintain a list of all people in a school building in case of emergencies, and staff are now required to grab the visitors' log as they are leaving a building for any kind of incident.

The new safety rules include specific procedures for staff ID's for substitute teachers who must now swap their driver's license, or some other form of photo ID, for daily temporary staff ID's. And vendors making deliveries or contractors working at building are required to show some type of photo identification as they sign in at the main entrance.

Teachers and school staff who lose their official ID badges will be able to get one replacement badge every three years. Any additional badges will cost $10. Although some members of the policy committee felt that fee would raise some objections, other committee members wanted to drive home the importance of taking care of those badges and keeping them from falling into the wrong hands.

BOE members acknowledged that the safety procedures are a living document that will change over time.

However, Superintendent Mark Conrad said the safety rules outline a balanced approach to security into a school setting.

"We put into writing many of things we have been doing for a very long time," he said.

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