Safety review, upgrades underway for Madison City Schools

Madison City Schools staff constantly scrutinize safety procedures. Murders at Sandy Hook (Conn.) Elementary School have heightened these concerns.

“I can’t help but feel a certain pall and sadness because of the events in Connecticut,” superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said about entering Christmas week.

Fowler visited most Madison campuses on Dec. 17 and found students “in good spirits, but you could feel the concern of the adults. Teachers, staff, administrators were all keenly aware that often we get lulled into a sense of safety, but events, such as the one in Sandy Hook, shock us back to vigilance.”

Since the shooting, Fowler has received email in three categories:

* ‘Thank you’ — A U.S. Army major deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan appreciates the district’s emphasis on security and his sense of well being for his own children while at school.

* Offers to help — A Department of Defense employee volunteered to share “active shooter safety.”

* Requests for enhancements — “Parents and guardians want to know what we were doing to beef up security,” Fowler said.

After a Discovery Middle School student was shot and killed in 2010, a safety task force recommended improvements; most are implemented. This year’s annual safety audit reported procedures are “exceptional … We continue to make upgrades,” Fowler said.” Improvements were planned before the Connecticut incident and covered in the system’s capital plan.

“There is no one magic item that can keep us all safe,” Fowler said. “If there were, we would spare no expense in getting it in place.”

The district will not publicize certain aspects of the safety plan. Effective tactics include school resource officers, Text-to-Protect confidential line and visitor check-ins scanning for sex offenders.

Soon, older schools will have interior doors separating the office from the student body. Camera systems will be upgraded. State senator Bill Holtzclaw has allocated $30,000 to Madison City Schools for security improvement and repairs.

For questions, call the school’s principal or Central Office staff at 256-464-8370.

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