FARMINGTON — An analysis of safety and security in Farmington schools showed strengths in key areas and room for improvement in areas that a consultant says can, in most cases, be easily and inexpensively resolved.
The Farmington Municipal School Board of Education on Thursday night heard recommendations from the district's safety committee and Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center, that are expected to improve safety and security for students and staff in district schools and buildings.
"We are pleasantly pleased about the policies in place and we continue to work on specifically getting all of our staff trained," superintendent Janel Ryan said.
District Director of Technology Charles Thacker said Farmington schools are doing well in many areas of safety and security including conducting drills, maintaining relationships with law enforcement and focusing staff attention on safety and security.
Some of the potential problem areas identified include many school doors left unlocked that could not be quickly secured during a lockdown, a lack of consent-to-search signs in parking lots and in other areas on school property, and no fully developed district-level plans for response, recovery and reunification in emergency situations.
Frank Stimac, superintendent for security and communication, said many measures are in place but no official and formal plan has been developed.
Stimac said the district will be working with San Juan County law enforcement officials on formal plans.
Thacker said many of the areas to be improved are easily resolved and inexpensive or quick to implement.
Some of the recommendations the district will implement include increasing the number of radios on school campuses, installing access controls on exterior doors of buildings and improving the management system for school visitors.
Thacker said when the Safe Havens consultants visited schools and signed in at the front office, they never used their real names on sign-in sheets.
"We don't know who is on campus and who isn't," Thacker said.
Safe Havens' contract was approved by the school board members in June 2013 and the firm conducted a safety, security and emergency management assessment of the district during that fall semester.
The safety committee — comprised of board members, administration and school staff and faculty — used the information in those reports to write the recommendations and priorities for the district, Thacker said.
A detailed security vulnerability assessment was completed for the 19 schools and four facility buildings that evaluated existing school safety, crisis response, disaster plans, and safety policy and procedures.
"One of the best ways to do this is to have an impartial outside agent conduct an assessment of our readiness and procedures," Thacker said. "Providing a report of those things that are positive and should be kept as well as those areas that are opportunities for improvement."