School board reviews its safety, security measures

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Locked facilities during the day, school police officer, awareness of potential problems keys

With each school shooting that happens in America, thousands of schools around the nation reexamine their active shooter drills and facility security. Benson Public Schools is no exception.

Following the killing of 14 students and three faculty Feb. 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, District 777 Board of Education chair Chad Payne called Supt. Dennis Laumeyer.

“I don’t think either one of us slept much that night,” he told fellow school board members at their Feb. 20 regular meeting. Payne said he was looking for an update on where Benson Public Schools were as far as student safety and security.

“It isn’t right,” he said of the murder of the school children, choking up as made the statement.

Laumeyer talked with Payne about a couple of things the school district does to reassure students and community at times like this. Benson school building doors are locked as people come up to the buildings.

“We have a level of security that you have to buzz to get into our buildings,” Laumeyer said. “So that is a start. We have a school resource officer that is onsite all day, every day.” That resource officer is a Benson police officer.
There is a social worker on staff along with the mental health services provided by Woodland Centers to help students who might have needs, he said.

“The biggest thing we have is the relationships our staff builds with students and our community,” Laumeyer said. “If things are happening, or something comes up, as we have seen earlier this year, reports are made. That is the biggest deterrent to any kind of tragedy is the relationships that we build and people stepping forward if they hear something, or know something, or feel like something is not right.”

“We feel comfortable that our students are very safe and they can come to our school,” he told school board members.

What Laumeyer was referring to when he mentioned an event earlier in the school year was the threat made by a former student to come to the Benson High School and shoot people attending a basketball tournament.

Further, the school district is required to conduct four crisis drills during the school year, Laumeyer said. It is also looking at doing ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training, a program that is being implemented nationwide in schools. It will pursue the training once the school resource officer is trained in the program.

“You do everything you can to be prepared. You hope people do the right thing. And we want our schools to be a safe place,” he said....


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