Survey: Majority Of Schools Need Better Emergency Preparedness, Increased Funding For Security

Wren, a provider of video surveillance solutions, recently released the findings of its third in a four-part research series to better understand the range of school security challenges and the role different security technologies play in their security planning and strategy.

The Wren School Security Survey: Access Control, a survey of school resource officers and administrators, revealed almost three-fourths of respondents are not extremely confident in their ability to lock down their school in case of an emergency, citing limited budgets to fund electronic access control technologies as the primary obstacle.

The survey was conducted in August with the help of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and the National Association for School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers (NASSLEO). Findings from this survey, distributed to NASRO and NASSLEO members and school administrators across the US, indicate that schools have key security gaps involving access control:

  • Electronic access control systems are not being used in the majority of schools that participated in the survey.
  • Only 28 percent of responding schools felt "extremely confident" in their ability to ensure perimeter doors would securely lock in case of an emergency lock down.
  • Funding remains a key obstacle for schools wanting to implement additional security technologies such as access control.

The series of surveys revealed that schools consider access control a critical security tool, after video surveillance.

"School resource officers work in partnership with school administrators and other security professionals as the first line of defense in schools," said Dick Caster, executive director of NASRO. "Having access control, especially if it's integrated with other security systems to give them greater confidence in emergency preparedness, would most certainly serve to further strengthen this partnership and ultimately benefit staff and students."

The survey revealed the following:

  • Access Control Underutilized in Schools: Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated that their school did not currently use electronic access control at the time of the survey. Only 36 percent responded that they did. Of the 36 percent of schools currently using electronic access control systems, the vast majority, 93 percent, is using them at main entrances. Only 28 percent are using electronic access control to protect or limit access to administrative offices, and even fewer are using it for strategic purposes such as protecting server rooms, personnel and student files, computer and science labs and other areas.
  • The Funding Challenge and Alternative Security Measures: Of the 64 percent of schools that do not currently have electronic access control, 72 percent cited a lack of budget dollars as the reason. When asked to identify the sources of funding, if they were to purchase and/or upgrade an electronic access control system, 69 percent said they would rely on a federal or state grant. Fifty-three percent said they would take the money from the existing school budget.
  • The Need for Access Control: When asked about the importance of key security concerns, an overwhelmingly 91 percent of respondents answered that it is critical to be able to "lock down" the school in case of an emergency, yet only 28 percent of responding schools felt "extremely confident" in their ability to ensure perimeter doors would securely lock in case of an emergency "lock-down." Nine percent of respondents said they did not have the capabilities to conduct a lock down at all.

"Surveys such as this one provide great insight into schools' true security challenges and needs," said Peter Pochowski, executive director of NASSLEO. "By understanding the areas where schools feel least prepared, we can help school resource officers and administrators better prioritize where limited funds should be allocated."

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