Security requires everyone to follow rules, Berkeley Co. schools chief says

Jefferson Co. schools plan more security cameras

March 04, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Multiple steps have been taken by Berkeley County Schools to make campuses safe, but school building security is only maintained if everybody follows the rules, Superintendent Manny Arvon II said Wednesday.

“You always ask the question, ‘Is it enough?’” Arvon said of security measures put in place to prevent something like the recent Ohio school shooting from happening here.

New buildings have been designed with vestibule entries, swipe-card systems have been installed and police officers are assigned at each high school, but Arvon said school systems can’t address the security issue without the involvement of students’ families.

“It takes a working partnership between the family and the school system,” Arvon said. “You can’t just solve the puzzle working one side of it.”

There are more than 17,000 students in Berkeley County Schools.

And on campuses, even when multiple steps have been taken to make them more safe, schools are only secure if everybody follows the rules.

“You can never let down your guard,” Arvon said.

Berkeley and Jefferson County schools have not installed metal detectors in their buildings, but even if they were in place, Arvon said a student who wanted to would work around the system.

Sheri Hoff, who oversees Jefferson County Schools’ crisis plan and school safety issues, said the school district intends to install more security cameras to monitor inside and outside each building. Hoff said funding has limited the school district’s ability to have a police officer work as a school resource officer at each high school, and estimated metal detectors would be quite expensive.

While the school district’s crisis plan is under continual review and school officials regularly meet with law enforcement about security issues, “there’s always room for improvement,” Hoff said.

What happened in Ohio will be reviewed by Jefferson County Schools, she said.

Jefferson County Schools has about 8,800 students, officials said at the start of the school year.

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