In the wake of the Newtown school massacre, Dr. Frank Alvarez said the Rye City School District is upgrading security measures. The District will add three security guards. Asked if the guards will be carrying firearms, the District declined to comment.
By Sarah Varney
In the wake of the Newtown elementary school massacre, and last week’s lockdown of Rye and other area schools, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez said the Rye City School District is upgrading security measures.
Specifically, the District will add three security guards — one at each elementary school — at a cost of $105,000. Alvarez received unanimous approval from the Rye Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting. Guards will be in place at least until the end of the year.
Asked if the guards will be carrying firearms, the District declined to comment.
The Board also approved an $85,000 contract to retain Stonegate Associates, a security consulting firm. Alvarez used the Holmdel, N.J. firm when he was superintendent of Montclair Schools. The company will conduct a “vulnerability assessment” of the School District’s current security measures and review the emergency management plan put in place in 2008.
“This isn’t what we planned to focus on when we became educators, but we’re all unfortunately becoming experts in emergency management,” Alvarez told more than a dozen concerned parents.
Several Rye parents took the opportunity to ask questions about school security measures. Jennifer Costigan, mother of a Midland student, sought reassurance that when a principal is offsite, a specific on-campus person is always designated to handle emergencies in his or her absence.
Cutting to the bottom line, a father of a Milton child, asked how the District might hypothetically accommodate any expensive security modifications advised by Stonegate. “We would look at each suggestion and carefully consider each one,” Alvarez replied.
Vicki Edmonds, mother of an Osborn child, expressed concern that the presence of security guards at elementary schools might frighten younger children. Edmonds also chided the district for its disorganized approach to the January 4 lockdown: “I immediately came up to Osborn and the door was wide open!”
Meanwhile, a mother who works full-time in New York City explained the differences in security measures she experiences day-to-day. “I work in Manhattan and I’ve got more security around me than my kids do. I’d like to (make sure that we) see the full list of what the security consultant suggests,” she said.
Laura Slack, Rye Board of Education President, assured the audience that all of Stonegate’s suggestions will be presented to the public.