by Matthew T. Wandrie, Superintendent

It’s time to begin leveraging 21st century technologies in the fight to protect our schools.  As educators, we’re quick to research and adopt the latest in curriculum development, instructional design and classroom technology in an effort to enhance the learning experience for our students.  We’re often heard encouraging the industry to modernize, adapt to changing job market conditions and establish a more robust and comprehensive educational environment. One that mirrors the experiences students are more likely to confront in the ever-evolving world economy, replete with all the latest in technology and innovation. Yet for some reason, we take a more rudimentary approach relative to school safety and security.  Quite honestly, we’re simply expected to be experts on all things impacting our schools and districts.  Fairly or unfairly, this burden is all too familiar to local administrators who are well-intentioned in communications with families regarding our efforts to better protect students and staff, but struggle to identify comprehensive solutions. As threats to schools continue to evolve, it’s become increasingly difficult to know just how to commit resources necessary to make a real difference. Recognizing our limited expertise in this arena requires an even greater commitment to partner with local law enforcement and private companies in effort to ensure we’re taking all the necessary steps to effectively plan, prepare and respond in times of crisis.  

Technology can and must be a part of developing a safety and security strategic plan for our schools and communities.  Partnering with security experts who understand the importance of things like mass notification, preparedness planning, technolgy systems-integration, staff training, and connectivity with local law enforcement are all essential components of any plan.  What’s the bottom line? Whether we in education realize it or not, the technology tools on the market are available at affordable rates and can make a significant difference.  Let’s invite the experts to show us how the security technology available can provide for a more cost effective approach.  As threats evolve, so too will the tools required to combat them.  An integrated technolgy platform that connects current data systems like single point entry doors, video camera feeds, notification alerts, and firsthand building site information is a great first step to establishing a security ecosystem in your district.  

Innovation doesn’t have to stop at the classroom door.  Modern school districts are leveraging technologies in a variety of industries to create districts built for the 21st century.  Whether it be Human Resources, business and operations, food service, maintenance, or transportation, we continually strive to incorporate the latest and greatest in each of these areas to improve service and efficiency.  Of course, our core function will always be teaching and learning.  We’ll continue to research best-practice educational strategies and make available the most innovate approaches to help our students learn.  With the increasing national focus on what schools are doing to provide a safe learning experience, let’s remember to apply the same levels of inquiry and scrutiny when identifying a security platform like we do in all other facets of the school environment.  Do you have a robust critical incident management platform that incorporates your current systems while also allowing for future integration?  Have you developed a 5 year strategic plan to address evolving security needs and costs?  Can you put the most accurate and current data in the hands of law enforcement personnel charged with responding to your buildings during an incident? 

These are the critical questions we must ask ourselves if we’re to truly commit to securing our facilities, students and staff.  Furthermore, there are technology-based solutions on the market today that can assist in connecting it all.  Don’t wait – integrate!