SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday night unanimously called for a district-wide review of safety plans in light of the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Trustee Scott Barnett brought about the proposal following the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn, in which 20 children and six adults were killed. Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, died of a self-inflicted gunshot at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the body of his mother was later found in her home.
"This tragedy spurs us to take a look at more detailed, different scenarios where students, staff, and visitors could be threatened potentially, and ensure we have considered all safety and security options," Barnett said.
Staff will review plans at each campus to determine what steps could be taken to increase the safety and security of student, staff and visitors, and report back on potential costs of improvements. Barnett said funds from bond measures approved in 2008 and November were earmarked for safety and security improvements.
The staff report will take into account potential scenarios of threats to students, teachers and staff at district facilities, and dangers posed by potential natural disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, floods or tsunamis.
"Realistically, the risk of one of these natural disasters affecting our kids is more likely -- and has already -- than one of these terrible incidents where some either disturbed or evil person chooses to do harm to students and staff," Barnett said.
"That said, we need to make sure we consider all safety and security options without our school facilities becoming armed fortresses."
Board President John Lee Evans added the district was already doing things, like reviewing safety plans annually and determining how police were deployed, that could reassure parents and to not increase students' anxiety.
"Education is our mission, but our number one priority really is the safety of our students -- that's what parents want more than anything else, to make sure when their kids go to school they are safe," Evans said.
The district has its own police department and works closely with the San Diego Police Department. The agencies are preparing to deploy technology that will stream video from campus cameras directly into police vehicles.
School police Chief Rueben Littlejohn said police personnel along with that from the Facilities Planning & Construction Division and Physical Plant Operations, "will take this seriously and will take an omnipresent approach in trying to provide a presence everywhere at all times, which is important when we look at what happened in Connecticut."
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