JPS Hears Recommendations On Safety, Security Enhancements | News, Sports, Jobs | #schoolsaftey

Jamestown Public Schools Supertindent Dr. Kevin Whitaker talks to the audience and board during Tuesday night’s meeting.
P-J photo by Michael Zabrodsky

The Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education heard presentations Tuesday about enhancing safety and security for the district.

After hearing the presentations, board members took no action on the recommendations.

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker said the committees formed as a result of some concerns aired about safety and security in the district’s schools. The roles of the committees, the superintendent said, included recommendations that the board would vote on in the future. He outlined the tasks of the committees which were to address safety and security of the buildings while balancing educational needs, and funding sources. He said the committees that gave presentations were weapons detection system, blue light fire alarm systems, partnerships with law enforcement, safety analysis with New York State Police, camera and detection systems, professional development, and ballistic window systems.

Two of the presentations that received the most attention were by the weapons detection committee and the blue light fire alarm committee.

“The blue light system is a lockdown alarm,” Whitaker said. “It says the building is locked down. There is an alarm, but if you hear anything else, don’t leave (the building). Stay in your classrooms, stay locked down.”

Steve Maggio, speaking on behalf of the weapons detection system committee, said the panel recommend using the OpenGate security system.

“The OpenGate does not have to be permanently installed,” Maggio said. “It can be taken to other locations and set up for use.”

Maggio said he learned more about the system by visiting Chautauqua Institution where units are installed. He said it is the same system used by the Institution for the Jamestown High School graduation at the Amphitheater. Maggio said the Institution officials offered to rent their five OpenGate units because the Chautauqua summer season begins when New York state schools go on summer vacation.

“It was fast to get in. It was fast to get out,” Maggio said after seeing a demonstration at the Institution.

“The outcome, as we believe it, would be increased security and a feeling of safety that are present, whether it be students, family, teachers, and other staff that is working within the Jamestown Public Schools,” Maggio added.

School Resource Officer Alexis Carlson spoke on behalf of the blue light fire alarm committee. She said Dunkirk High School has a similar system installed, and she was able to see a demonstration. Carlson recommended Great Lakes Building Systems to install the fire alarms. She added that a school can customize the alarm to specific needs in a building. Carlson said the alarm can also notify an emergency dispatcher within seconds as radio-to-radio communication can sometimes be a difficult process.

“It’s literally an extension of the fire alarms,” the SRO said of the blue light system.

Whitaker said the board will look at he OpenGate system.

“We had a lot of information tonight to consider,” said Board President Paul Abbott. Abbott said there will be more conversations about potential training on the OpenGate units.

Board Vice President Patrick Slagle echoed Abbott’s thoughts. “This is a lot to digest.”

The board also heard a presentation from Alyssa Catlin of Young & Wright Architecture about the proposed capital project that will go before voters on Dec. 12. In April, as part of its $86.5 Million Capital Improvements Projects, JPS broke ground at the Raymond J. Fashano Technical Academy, 200 E. Fourth St.

Officials said then the project focuses on three key areas:

¯ Modernizing classrooms and student spaces

¯ Enhancing safety, security and technology

¯ providing essential maintenance to protect the district’s investment.

Whitaker said the next step in the project is to figure out the complete scope. He said the board has to decide where to place money for improvements.

The reason for the December vote, Whitaker said, is that there should not be a huge gap in the construction process.

“We want to roll from the one we are currently engaged in right into the next one, and we want to plan for the future,” Whitaker said.

As previously reported, Phase Two of the project, at a cost of about $41.7 million, will largely focus on Jamestown High School with construction scheduled to commence in the spring of 2024. Phase Three, at a cost of about $21.6 million, will focus on Persell Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School and CC Ring Elementary School. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2026.

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