Salem schools tighten access

SALEM – Salem school officials unveiled a new security measure Thursday, restricting student access into the high school/junior high building to two doors each morning.

“A lot of students were caught off guard,” Superintendent Tom Bratten told board members Thursday night, but he added it’s worth some inconvenience.

The move is part of the district’s ongoing effort to improve security and look at what can be done to keep students safe, something he said they’re constantly updating.

The idea to try to control the flow into the building in the mornings when students arrive came out of a meeting Wednesday between school administrators, a pair of board members, Salem Police Patrolman Brad Davis and Sgt. J.T. Panezott, the incoming police chief.

Bratten said a lot of students were arriving before many of the staff members and coming in all different entrances. This way, staff members will see who’s coming into the building and know whether they belong there or not.

Board President Andrew Null said that was something they could improve immediately.

“It’s an ongoing evaluation process,” he said.

Safety and security will remain a topic at monthly board meetings under the Buildings and Grounds Committee report, which is a new effort aimed at keeping the community informed about what the district is doing better, although board Vice President Steve Bailey explained they won’t be able to tell parents and the public everything they’re doing, since it is for security.

The district already has plans in place, but he said they’re continuing to work on them and see what other areas they need to tweak.

Bratten said they always walk through all the buildings at the beginning of every school year to look at what can be done better and make changes as they go. They don’t wait for something to happen.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at