In the name of safety

School district officials say security measures implemented in October are effective

Earlier this year, a man was late for a meeting at Craig Middle School and decided to bypass the mandatory check-in at the front office.

"Within minutes, I had kids come to the office," secretary Beth Gilchrist said. "And I had staff members calling me. I could tell exactly how far he had gotten by the calls."

Earlier this year, a man was late for a meeting at Craig Middle School and decided to bypass the mandatory check-in at the front office.

Moffat County School District Superintendent Pete Bergmann said incidents like this are evidence that the district-wide safety measures implemented in October are working.

The call to standardize the security measures at each of the district's schools came after the September standoff at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey. Duane Morrison, 53, took six girls hostage. He killed hostage Emily Keyes, 16, before killing himself.

Moffat County's plan includes keeping a single school entrance open, requiring school personnel to wear identification badges, requiring visitors to sign in and out and wear an identification badge while visiting, and asking students and staff to report unauthorized people to staff.

Educating students to be aware of intruders is key, Bergmann said, such as when the man at CMS passed by the front office.

"(Students are) the ones who are going to keep our schools safe," he said. "We want to get kids in the habit of recognizing people who don't belong and reporting them."

Steven Torres, a CMS seventh-grader, said he feels safe in his school with the new rules.

"There's not many people walking around the school, and if they are, then they've got to have the yellow pass," Torres said.

And if they don't have a pass: "Tell a teacher and they'll notify the office," Torres said.

Part of the district's plan is to test schools' responses, including more fire and lockdown drills.

The district sent a newsletter to parents in October informing them of the ways the district responds to emergencies.

"This is part of our effort to educate our parents ... (Security) is everyone's responsibility, and we're all in this together," Bergmann said.

Not all parents have been receptive to the new regulations, said Julie Baker, Ridgeview Elementary School principal.

"Overall, parents have been great, and we so appreciate their cooperation and understanding as we increase measures to keep their kids safe," Baker said.

But some do not like the inconvenience of checking in at the office.

"And that's really hard because we have to invite them to leave the building," Baker said.

Bergmann said the community response has been mostly positive to the security measures. As the school board looks at keeping Moffat County's schools secure, Bergmann said security measures are a priority. These measures will likely come as part of the possible school facility renovations recommended to the board by Neenan Archistruction in October.

Of the $36 million in upgrades Neenan proposed, the district may spend all or none of that. But Bergmann said the board will keep security in its plans.

One security move Bergmann has in mind already is moving Moffat County High School's administrative offices to the first floor to make signing in easier to monitor.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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