State Police assessments expected in Northern Lehigh School District

Posted: 10:39 PM EST Nov 11, 2013   Updated: 10:44 PM EST Nov 11, 2013
Northern Lehigh Valley School District

All-too-common school shootings have made an impact on the Northern Lehigh School District Board of Directors.

In an extensive presentation, Greg Derr, Director of Support Services for Northern Lehigh School District, outlined numerous improvements that could be made to the school buildings in the district to improve their safety standards. This initiative comes on the heels of surprise State Police assessments throughout local school districts.

Derr suggested the use of bollards at the entrances of Northern Lehigh High School, Peters Elementary, Slatington Elementary and Northern Lehigh Middle School, to discourage attempts to ram in the doors. 3,400-ton stone flowerpots are a likely choice.

Dumpsters could pose a threat when too close to buildings, according to Derr, so suggestions to move such dumpsters and lock all dumpsters were made as well. Like dumpsters, bushes offer a dangerous hiding place, so Derr has already had several bushes trimmed down in the district and plans to attend to a few more.

Derr purchased a stencil reading: “All visitors please report to the office” that he plans to use in all visitor areas of all Northern Lehigh schools. All school buildings in the district remain locked throughout the day and I.D. is required for visitors to be admitted.

Any and all changes will be paid for from the support services budget and will likely be phased in slowly.

Despite taking in recommendations from previously assessed Pleasant Valley School District, Northern Lehigh still remains in the dark about when exactly their assessment will be.

“We are in queue for this fall, but it will be a surprise,” Derr said. “They could come disguised as a parent or someone who tries to get a teacher to let them in through a side door. We don’t know.”

The board expressed their strong support of these initiatives after Derr’s presentation.

“People ask me, shouldn’t we spend more time on education? Yeah I wish we could…but that’s not the day and age we live in, people. Our children are our greatest national asset,” said Superintendent Michael Michaels.

The school safety task force meetings will resume after the State Police assessment.