Published in the September 14, 2016 edition


LYNNFIELD — A new task force is currently reviewing security protocols in the town’s schools, Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay said at last week’s School Committee meeting.

Tremblay said she and Police Chief David Breen created the task force over the summer. She said the task force consists of police sergeant Al Scotina, school resource officer Patrick Curran and Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston.

The superintendent said the task force has been assessing each school and has been identifying ways to “keep our kids safer,” including evaluating possible evacuation routes. She said the task force recommended the school department implement the ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate) program.

According to ALICE’s website, the program teaches people “how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event.” A number of area school districts have implemented the ALICE program, including North Reading.

Tremblay said teachers were given an overview of the ALICE program before the school year began. In a phone interview with the Villager, Tremblay said teachers will receive additional ALICE program training during the November professional development day.

Additionally, Tremblay said the schools will be conducting emergency drills for students.

“We will have emergency drills in each of the schools as they pertain to emergencies other than fire drills,” said Tremblay.

Tremblay said she will be keeping community members and the School Committee up to date about any changes to school department’s security system and procedures.

“We are going to continue to work with the task force to figure out how we are going to roll this out,” said Tremblay.

Tremblay noted Scotina has received SWAT training. She said she appointed Ralston to the task force because he is a member of School Threat and Response System (STARS), an organization that is affiliated with the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC). The police department is part of NEMLEC.

“Steve has gone all over the North Shore whenever there is a crisis to help schools troubleshoot,” said Tremblay.

Recent security upgrades

The district upgraded its security system last spring. As part of the school department’s fiscal year 2016 capital budget, voters at the April 2015 Town Meeting appropriated $225,000 to improve school security.

The project entailed purchasing new cameras at all of the schools, which have been installed inside and outside of the town’s four schools. A camera was also installed at the Lynnfield High School fields complex. The cameras are on day and night.

New monitors were purchased for the elementary schools and LHS, which are similar to the monitor at Lynnfield Middle School. A buzzer system was installed at the high school as well.

The monitors, which are similar to a flat screen TV, are located in the front office of each school. The monitors allow school officials to see different areas of the school simultaneously and are motion activated.

The school department is still using the COPsync911 program, which is an alert notification system that seeks to improve communication and coordination between the school and police departments. The software application, which is accessible via computers and mobile devices, is based at the police department and police officers have access to the COPsync911 program in their cruisers. Teachers and school administrators have access to COPsync911 as well, but students do not have access to the software.