By Dari Kotzker
The New Jersey School Boards Association held a school safety forum today in response to the Newtown tragedy, with more than 700 school officials, law enforcement and parents in attendance.
“The ultimate goal is to enable people to think differently,” said Dr. Larry Feinsod, New Jersey School Boards Association executive director. “The new normal in our public schools is how we protect our students and how we protect our staff. Nothing like the tragedy in Newtown has ever occurred, and that’s now making us rethink what we’re already doing and trying our best to come up with new and innovative ideas.”
Officials say New Jersey schools are ahead of the curve with their security measures. However, some new strategies may include more school resource officers and looking into new security technology. One initiative will be unannounced emergency lock down drills starting in February.
“I think a new initiative is having our drilling at inopportune times because how you play is how you practice and vice versa,” said Anthony Bland, state coordinator for the Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning. “We’re trying to assess how prepared our schools are. Can they respond in a timely fashion with realistic emergencies?”
The panelists said today’s forum is only the beginning of a long-term discussion on school safety.