PTA pays for camera, intercom system at Hurley Elem.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Visitors to Hurley Elementary School now have to ring a bell and wait to gain entry into the school.
The Parent-Teacher Association spent $2,700 to have two security cameras and an intercom system installed at the front door of the school.
“I’m glad they have been gracious enough to fund this. The front door has always been a concern during the nine years that I’ve been here,” said Principal Kim Walton.
Office personnel monitor the system, checking a screen just behind their desks to see who is at the door before hitting a button to unlock it for several seconds.
“Now, nobody can just walk into the front door of the school,” Walton said.
The system was installed Friday and the school began using it Monday, exactly one month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 27 people, including 20 children.
Walton said a parent emailed her about systems that are in place at other schools and she researched them before deciding on one designed by Spectrum.
“Parents who have been here and actually used the system are very appreciative,” she said.
Following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., Walton said, she spent a lot of time talking to concerned parents.
“I believe every principal met with a lot of parents and received numerous emails,” she said.
Walton said there are still some security concerns at the school. The campus includes two buildings and seven mobile units, making it difficult to lock every outside door.
“Staff and teachers have to travel from building to building, and you don’t want everyone having keys,” she said.
But Walton has worked to calm fears by having teachers lock the doors to their individual classrooms.
“I would say before this incident, probably 60 percent kept their doors locked anyway, but now I’m telling them to do so until we are able to lock all outside doors,” she said.
The school’s administrators have also made an effort to be more visible throughout the school, being present during lunch each day.
Kristen Barber, who has a kindergartner and second-grader at the school, said she’s impressed by the proactive approach officials at Hurley have taken to make the school safe.
“The PTA at Hurley has also been wonderful in stepping up to pay for the camera and intercom system that was recently installed,” she said. “Of course, as a parent, I’m still nervous because something can happen anytime, no matter what precautions are taken. But I feel Hurley is working to be as secure as possible.”
Barber said Walton stood by the front door the week after the Sandy Hook shooting to verify every visitor that entered the building.
“She does an amazing job,” she said.
Walton is part of the newly formed school safety committee, which is looking to address a broad range of concerns.
“The community needs to know that all schools are at a heightened awareness and we’re all concerned about our schools being secure,” she said.
District spokeswoman Rita Foil said Bostian Elementary and Henderson Independent High School already have similar intercom and camera systems.
She said the school safety committee is looking at a variety of options to improve security at schools including camera systems, intercoms, door buzzers and key pads.

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.