Visitors entering Southampton School District buildings now face an extra layer of security.
Superintendent J. Richard Boyes, Ed.D., said that there are now cameras at the entrances of the schools, and the outer doors will remain locked until visitors speak to the security staff over an intercom. Visitors "must be seen and spoken to first,” he said.
Previously, visitors could freely enter at the front door of school buildings, then present ID at the security desk and sign in for a visitor's badge.
Dr. Boyes said the school district had been in the process of adding the new security protocol before the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The event, in which 20 young students and six staff members were killed, cast a spotlight on school security nationally.
There is a trade-off between convenient access and heightened security, Dr. Boyes said. “When you tighten it up, it aggravates some people. And other people say, 'I’m glad you did that.'"
In the light of the recent tragedy and other incidents, some security measures are more acceptable than before, he said.
Dr. Boyes, who is retiring at the end of the school year, has worked in education for 42 years. He said that at the beginning of his career, in the Adirondacks and western New York, it was commonplace to see pickup trucks with gun racks in the back in school parking lots.
“It's come so far since then," he said. "It's sad, because we didn't hear about school shootings and things years ago."