Londonderry School Security Updates Nearly Complete

Londonderry School District Facilities Director Chuck Zappala briefed the school board on updates to school security that have been put into place for the beginning of this school year.
“Last year the board approved spending some money out of the Fiscal Year 13 budget for two-way radios so that we could talk to each other from school to school, and also for the installation of panic buttons in the buildings,” Zappala said.

He said the radios have been purchased and are in the schools and the panic buttons have been installed in areas of the buildings that are not readily accessible to foot traffic. Both of those projects took a little longer than expected to complete.
“For the radios we had to get some licenses and paperwork done for the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and had some antennas installed throughout the district, which took some time, and we did some testing,” he explained at the school board’s Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting. “As of a couple of days ago, the system was working.”
Installation of the panic buttons took “quite a while,” Zappala said, as 80,000 feet of wire had to be pulled through the schools.
“Not just for the panic buttons but for other upgrades as well,” he said. “The panic buttons are installed. We tested those last week. When the panic button is initiated, the school will go into a lockdown, and automated phone calls will be made to the police giving the location and a phone call to the district office to let us know what building.”
He said that last year a warrant article was approved for card access at all 260 doors throughout the district and that system is now complete. Eight hundred employees needed cards.
“It’s a very tedious process. These are discs that operate the system and each disc has to be individually programmed and then distributed to the staff,” Zappala said, adding that one employee has already lost a badge and it had to be replaced and the former badge deactivated.
“There are a lot of schools and businesses that are securing exterior doors, resulting in a wait for parts,” he told the board. He said the door monitoring system should be in place this week.
“In the case of a door being propped open, an alarm will sound in the office and a custodian or someone will go and check on the door,” Zappala said.
Board member John Robinson asked if the two-way radios can reach all the schools and Zappala said they could. “That’s impressive,” Robinson said.
Student Council Representative on the board, Anissa Cote asked where the panic buttons were located and Zappala said that the buttons were not in common areas.
“We did that to eliminate the chance of false alarms,” Zappala said.
Board member John Laferriere said that his understanding was that the button was activated and a message sent to a private dispatch and then the private dispatch calls the police and then the police are dispatched to the school.
He asked that the board be informed as to the length of time from button activation to when the dispatch calls the police department and what is the time from when the police are called to when there is someone on site.
Robinson suggested that response times should be discussed in non-public session.
Board Chairman Nancy Hendricks suggested the board look into the matter.

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