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Volunteers close safety void with stations at doors of schools

November 06, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

MAUGANSVILLE - Dave King didn't mind talking about his volunteer work at Maugansville Elementary School late last week.

"But could you sign in first?" he asked.

King has been monitoring the front entrance of the elementary school for about three weeks. The Hagerstown resident makes sure people sign in and out and have a reason for being in the building.

King's nephew, a first-grader, is enrolled at the school.

Shortly after Washington County schools initiated new security procedures, King said the elementary school's PTA talked about the need for volunteers to watch the front entrance and monitor who goes in and out of the school.

King said his sister-in-law is a member of the PTA, and she told him about the opportunity.

"I said, 'Well, I'm not doing anything right now,'" he said. "I should volunteer."

Officials do not know the number of volunteers in the county who are helping with school safety because those decisions are made by individual schools, school system spokeswoman Carol Mowen said. Some school officials said they have buzzer systems and do not need someone at the door full time.

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Others said they have been paying substitute teachers or lunch assistants to monitor the front entrances.

King, who is retired, said he is able to be at Maugansville Elementary School about three days each week. He is there from the beginning of the school day until about 2:30 p.m.

On the days King is unable to be there, Principal Deborah J. Favinger said other volunteers help with the school's security.

About 70 people each day come in and out of the elementary school, King said. Visitors don't wait at the door, and they don't have to knock. King opens the door for most of them shortly after he sees them walking toward the entrance.

Once visitors are in the building, King asks them to sign in with their name and reason for being at the school. They also write the time they arrived, and they will be asked to enter the time they leave. Visitors are given a badge identifying them as a visitor and are directed where they need to go.

He said he hasn't had any security issues.

"Once their business is conducted, they sign out and return the badge," King said. "I make sure they do all of that so they are not just wandering around the school."

Before King began volunteering, the school's secretary was responsible for letting people into the school, Favinger said. She said that was taking a lot of time away from that person's other responsibilities.

"It's amazing the flow of people in and out of a school during the day," she said.

Favinger said King has been very courteous and kind to everyone coming in and out of the building.

"He's exactly the person you would want greeting people," she said. "He's very polite to everyone. The school is part of the community, and it should be inviting. Everyone is so grateful to (King)."

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