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Newton to Install Buzzer Entry Systems at Elementary, Middle Schools

With the new system, the front doors of the K-8 schools to be locked during the school day, through dismissal.

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Newton school and city officials have assessed the district's safety measures and decided to install buzzer and camera entry systems at all Newton elementary and middle schools. 

The new buzzer systems will allow the K-8 schools to remain locked during the day through dismissal, according to a letter sent to the school community Friday afternoon by Superintendent David Fleishman.

"We must continue to improve our safety practices and procedures in a thoughtful manner," Fleishman said in the letter. "There are sensible security measures that we can implement while preserving the sense of community that is a hallmark of the Newton Public Schools."

As explained in an earlier statement from Fleishman, the current policy requires school doors to be locked during the day, except the front (main) door, which is left unlocked.

The elementary and middle schools will keep the current policy of having the front door unlocked during drop-off time, but any parents or visitors coming to the school after the drop-off period will have to use the buzzer and be identified by school staff before the front door is unlocked, Fleishman said.

Both the mayor and the School Committee support installing the new buzzer entry system, Fleishman said.

Administrators will notify parents and school community members when the system is in place, along with more details on after school procedures.

Over the last few weeks, district and city officials have met with members of the Newton Police Department, school principals and the district safety team to discuss and assess the current safety measures and emergency procedures. That process will continue, Fleishman said.

"In the coming weeks, we will continue to assess our safety and security procedures in all of our buildings, including the high schools," Fleishman said.

In addition to the buzzer system, the district already uses a keyless entry system at elementary and middle schools as well as security cameras at the high schools, Fleishman said. All schools throughout the district also have shades and locks on classroom doors.

Principals also work with staff to cover emergency procedures such as lockdown drills, shelter-in-place procedures and evacuations, Fleishman said.

More information on the district's emergency response information, including an FAQ, is available online

Fleishman's full statement is included in the .pdf section above.

Stephanie January 05, 2013 at 10:16 PM
I don't think parents expect it to prevent Newtown. I think it just an extra level of safety. Nothing physical in the building could have prevented Newtown. How many of you leave your front door unlocked while you are home every single day. We have had a few break ins in our Newton neighborhood. . . . an ounce of safety.
Adam Maleson January 06, 2013 at 12:37 AM
I would not object to security cameras being placed intelligently in certain types of stairwells as you suggest. Nor do all the school's doors have to be unlocked from the outside. But the FRONT DOOR, at the Main Entrance, of a public school, should remain unlocked during school hours, for the reason that the schools should NOT be a prison system. And what you are suggesting essentially turns the public schools into something so closely resembling a prison that the difference becomes hardly worth noting. Creating a prison atmosphere, an atmosphere - or rather an At-Most-Fear - of fear and paranoia is completely counterproductive to learning, and to healthy psychological development. Now if YOU, with YOUR particular point of view and mode of thinking, wish to withdraw YOUR children from the Public School system and send them to a Military academy or other PRIVATE institution where they can develop in an atmosphere of fear, then I support your right to do so. But if you try to turn the public schools in MY home town into training-wheels miniature prisons, I will voice my objections to this being done with my tax money, and in my home town. And I do NOT object to the idea, much cheaper and less cumbersome, of simply installing a security camera at the front entrance, so that while not needing to be buzzed in, anyone entering the building will be recorded on video. That would be reasonable enough.
kimberly January 06, 2013 at 05:44 AM
i am a parent of a 8 year old and the last thing i want is a phone call saying some idiot shoot up the school locking the doors will not prevent it know but it will be just one more measure of secrity i understand about not making panic in the schools but dont you think 20 babies dying is reason to panic
Robert L. Cerra January 07, 2013 at 11:28 AM
It is naive to think that locked doors will prevent a problem, But keeping them unlocked is an invitation to a problem. The real question is who monitors and unlocks the doors and and what do the tell the people who control the access. Newton is a city that buys camera equipment to monitor certain areas and then turns trhe cameras off because they conisider them "intrusive". Newton is not safety oriented and the safety measures that are insitututed often don't address the real problem. The attitude of the city and safety was best demonstratred several years ago when Mayor Cohen and the then head librarian blocked the path of Federal, state and local police from conducting an investigation of a bomb threat. Better to be politically correct -safety will take care of itself
Choo Choo January 12, 2013 at 02:41 AM
I am a gun owner (single shot, target, rifle). I do not own a machete (as the Chinese incident showed). On the bright side, at least we will all know when the maintenance staff enters the buildings to fix the leaky roofs!

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