Cumberland Times-News

March 16, 2013

Mineral BOE talks steps for school safety

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Board of Education is continuing to work with Patriot Services Corporation on ensuring school safety, Superintendent Rob Woy said during a special work session on Saturday.

“We are working with Homeland Security to come up with a plan in the event that something does happen in the building and we have to call in law enforcement,” said Woy.

Patriot Services performed a safety evaluation, inspecting all facilities in Mineral County, said Gregory Phillips, director of support services.

After the inspection, Patriot Services identified security features that needed improvement.

“They thought we were in pretty good shape,” said Phillips.

The schools are currently utilizing key fobs, keypads for a security system, automatically locking doors and security cameras to ensure school safety.

The School Building Authority alloted the board a little more than $500,000 for school safety measures, according to Steve Peer, associate superintendent and treasurer.

In addition to that money, Mineral County added another $333,000.

The fobs need to be approved by Phillips and the principal of each school before they are distributed. The fobs can be turned off and programed with beginning and ending dates.

“There shouldn’t be anyone walking around in our schools that can get in a building who we don’t have listed,” said Phillips.

If the security system is set off, it automatically dials 911 and then dials people on a approved call list.  

 In addition to the aforementioned security measures, the prevention resource officers at both Frankfort and Keyser high schools have been given police cars, according to Woy.

“They park them right out in front of the building where it is in plain sight. Those are the little things that are deterrents,” said Woy. “Could we do more? Yes, we could always do more.”

Small-scale safety measures need to be looked at, as well, according to Woy.

“We have lived in a trusting environment and all that’s beginning to change now. Before, you would never think about those little things and now you have got to button down on those things. Trust is fading away.”

Phillips was a part of a state school safety and vulnerability assesment project, which helps schools, law enforcement and emergency personnel be better prepared for emergencies.

The project is funded by the state’s Legislature and is administered by the SBA and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

During the project, Phillips learned about Automated Critical Asset Management Systems, which provide a system that provides data on infrastructure and can only be accessed by authorized personnel.

The system ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to an emergency situation, according to Phillips.

Patriot Services provided a template of school infrastructure information and ensured that it was provided to law enforcement.

“We have to be on the same page and that means county to county because we may need help from another county,” said Phillips. “This is what Homeland Security is trying to do in the state of West Virginia with the crisis program.”

 Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.