Excelsior Springs School District Protects through Detailed Scheduling
- By Kim Rahfaldt
- Dec 07, 2009
Excelsior Springs School District's number one priority is to protect its students and staff in its seven buildings.
"The safety of our students is foremost in our minds," said Excelsior Springs Director of Safety and Security, Tom Mayfield. "In the US in the last 50 years, no child has died in a fire in the public schools, but we've lost over 250 students to school shootings. It's time to lock down schools and better manage disgruntled behavior."
John Lacy, Deputy Superintendent, persuaded district staff and the school board to invest in an AMAG Technology Symmetry Enterprise Security Management System (SMS) and Symmetry Video System. Almost 80 doors are controlled by proximity card readers and another 150 doors are monitored by the system. The Symmetry SMS operates over the school's IP network and is integrated with 219 Bosch Security Systems and AXIS IP cameras.
Mayfield hoped to accomplish four goals with the installation of Symmetry:
1. Lock down schools at appropriate times.
2. Reduce overnight vulnerability by protecting high-tech computer equipment.
3. Reduce bullying. If cameras are in the right places, it will be easier to see first hand what happened and assess how to address the situation further.
4. Create a resource tool for Safety Resource Officers (SRO). SROs can view cameras to have a record of occurrences and issue tickets for violations appropriately.
To accomplish these goals, Excelsior Springs set out to control the traffic flow in and out of each school.
Symmetry secures the Career Center, Early Childhood Center, Elkhorn Elementary, High School, Lewis Elementary, Middle School and Westview Elementary. Mayfield believes his seven buildings should be locked at all times, therefore all teachers, custodians and staff carry an access card to enter his/her designated building. As an example, at the high school the doors are locked at 7:35 a.m. and anyone who enters after that time enters through the mantrap doors. Once recognized by office staff and tardiness recorded, students can enter the school. Visiting parents and vendors are recorded as entering the building before entrance is granted.
Each school administrator/principal is responsible for his/her school's activity schedule. Every week each school's activity schedule is forwarded to Mayfield, who enters the data into the Symmetry Security Management System calendar. Symmetry automatically controls the locking and unlocking of the doors based on the schedule for that week. If a basketball game or any other school or community activity is scheduled that week, the information is communicated to Mayfield, who programs the doors so they will open when people need to come into the building. Symmetry automatically locks the doors at a predefined time after the game.
"My job is to make the Symmetry SMS work for the people; people do not work for the program," said Mayfield.
Excelsior Springs School District works with the police department to have a Safety Resource Officer (SRO) in both the middle and high schools. The SROs view the two schools as their own small towns, and work closely with students to promote interaction and help students make good decisions. The SROs and principals monitor their own schools. Symmetry has helped the SROs be more effective. They've viewed situations using Symmetry Video before deciding on the appropriate action. The cameras provide proof, and help the officers advise school administrators or decide what kind of ticket will be issued, if any.
Taking Security to the Next Level
Excelsior Springs will be implementing the Threat Level Manager module to have the option to lock down the school in the event of an emergency. Emergency training will begin over the summer.
To accompany the training, Mayfield is developing Go Bags. A Go Bag consists of a 10 inch laptop computer loaded with Symmetry Enterprise software. Mayfield, along with the SROs, Deputy Superintendent and Excelsior Springs Police Chief will each receive a Go Bag. The Go Bags will be used in emergency situations where wireless camera viewing is needed to view the interior of buildings and control the locking and unlocking of doors.
"If we ever have an incident, someone can sit outside the school with a Symmetry laptop and direct people on the inside where to go, for example, down hall number three, etc.," said Mayfield. "The outside people will help keep the inside people safe."
All administrators throughout the district have access in their own building to all cameras in each school district building. If there is an incident in one school, administrators can pull up the cameras and help direct the emergency responders.
All Systems, a systems integrator for AMAG Technology, installed Symmetry Enterprise and Symmetry Video. Excelsior Springs was originally going to just remodel the front entrances to their schools to provide better security, but All Systems introduced Lacy and Mayfield to AMAG's Symmetry solution, and they began thinking about how to use the system to protect students and staff and to meet their four main goals.
"Excelsior Springs School District needed the ability to have full system integration with video, and AMAG was the only company that supports that integration with multiple sites," said All Systems Executive Officer, Scott Lord. "We knew AMAG could do this and we wanted to make sure we could give that reliability and quality to the client. Symmetry will do everything we need it to do and more."
Why All Systems All Systems Designed Solutions, Inc. is a full-service systems integrator that manages integrated security solutions from start to finish, including: system layout and design, installation, in-service training, and 24-hour emergency service.
From the beginning, All Systems' goal has been to provide tailored solutions, superior technical service and innovative project implementation. After more than 30 years in business, All Systems continues to set the industry standard for providing cutting-edge fire and smoke detection, communications, media distribution and integrated security management systems.
Surprise Benefit Graduation is held in the large gymnasium in the high school every year. The gym is always filled to capacity, so chairs are placed in the adjacent commons to accommodate the overflow. Six cameras, including two pan/tilt/zoom cameras are in the gym. The IT staff was able to connect the cameras to monitors in the commons. The overflow of family members and friends were able to watch the graduation as though they were in the gym. The PTZ cameras were manually controlled by a staff member so when the band played, the cameras turned that direction. The cameras moved as the graduating students crossed the stage and received their diplomas. "It worked well because we were able to avoid disappointing many people who couldn't get in to the gym," said Mayfield.
Did Symmetry meet Excelsior Spring's goals?
Word is out that students are being watched. The Symmetry SMS:
- Protected expensive machinery in the career center.
- Monitored parking lots during senior girls lock-in, and caught group of boys about to cellophane a girl's car.
- Caught a group of students who played a major prank in the commons.
- Used the "threat" of a video system to locate a distracting laser pen at a basketball game.
A safety box, known as a Knox Box, that will contain an ID card and barrel key will be placed on the side of each building. The name of the school is on the card. Only the fire department has a key to the Knox Box. This eliminates the need to carry several keys.
Excelsior Springs also plans to integrate an existing camera system located at the football stadium into the existing Symmetry SMS. Four or five administrators, along with three or four police officers, currently provide security for the games. Cameras will be set up and an administrator will watch from an inside workstation. If the inside security person sees something suspicious on camera, he/she will radio the ground support to investigate.
Overall, John Lacy, Deputy Superintendent, Tom Mayfield and Excelsior Springs School District are very pleased with the protection and enhanced level of security that Symmetry has provided thus far. The integrated system allows complete control over the locking and unlocking of doors, saving the district time and money. They are looking forward to exploring further how Symmetry can grow to secure the district in the future.