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Changes in the works for safety plans

Changes could come to improve security in District 196 school buildings.

District staff, administrators and school liaison officers have met several times since the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown Conn. To talk about whether the district needs to change its policies to help keep students safe. The district already has a security policy and procedures for dealing with emergency situations, but secondary education director Mark Parr said those policies will be updated.

"I think we have a good policy, but I also think we always should be reviewing it," he said. "This gives us an opportunity to take a close look and maybe make some changes."

The district does not discuss the procedures much publicly because it doesn't want all the details available to a potential school shooter or other intruder.

The district has not made any large-scale changes since the Connecticut shooting, but individual schools have taken their own steps. Rosemount Elementary School has stationed someone at its front door at all times, and Rosemount High School has roped off much of its front hallway to limit access. RES is also raising money to install a new entry door.

At Valley Middle School, police fired blank rounds inside the building to give staff an idea what shooting might sound like in the school.

"The police have been working quite closely with us and I've been really pleased with the level of support," superintendent Jane Berenz said at a Monday night school board workshop.

Changes could be as simple as keeping more doors locked or reinforcing to employees that they need to have their identification badge visible when they are in the building.

School board member Mike Roseen, a retired sheriff's deputy, rejected any suggestion of arming staff members or posting a guard at school doors.

"You just get one guy shot first," he said.

Board member Art Coulson said Monday he wanted to make sure any proposed changes have a clear effect on school safety.

"I don't want to do anything that's going to be an empty show," he said.

Berenz said the district learns something from every situation like what happened in Newtown. Those incidents inform the district's policies, but each situation is different, she said.

The district's emergency team will meet Thursday to discuss feedback from the meetings the district has held in recent weeks. Parr said the pace of any changes that come out of that meeting will depend on how elaborate they are.