Zachary school officials are exploring ways to improve security, including putting more police officers at schools and buying safety equipment.
School security has been a hot topic across the country since 17 people died in a mass shooting at a Florida high school on Feb. 14.
In Zachary, officials are considering asking law enforcement agencies for more school resource officers. Superintendent Scott Devillier said the district already has three Zachary Police officers patrolling its schools.
One officer is based at Zachary High School. The other two work at Northwestern Middle School and Copper Mill Elementary School, and they also regularly stop by the remaining elementary schools in the district.
The school district pays part of each resource officer’s salary.
Devillier said Zachary police are willing to help, but leaders of the department said they would first need to hire more officers. Devillier is looking into getting the officers from other agencies, such as the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
Meanwhile, the district is trying to identify additional security measures, like installing higher fences around schools and adding a film to glass doors that makes them nearly indestructible, Devillier said at Tuesday's School Board meeting.
He and his staff also are studying ways to improve the training provided to students and employees, who already do monthly fire drills and periodic lockdown and shelter-in-place drills. And they are reviewing the mental health and counseling services offered at schools.
The district has more than 250 surveillance cameras, with 88 at the high school.
“Believe me, in most situations, if you do something, we can probably pull up the camera and see it,” Devillier said.
He said he's hoping to find a more efficient way to monitor surveillance video.
Also on Tuesday:
- Devillier said he and his staff are working on updates to the dress code and grooming policy. The goal is to make uniforms more consistent from school to school.
- Juniors and seniors in Zachary High School’s Z-Ed program attended the meeting to learn how the school board works. The program, formerly called Z-Star, is for students interested in careers in education.
- Representatives of BancorpSouth talked about health risk assessments they recently conducted of Zachary school employees. Their report says the employees, as a whole, are considered at moderate risk for health problems and need improvements in blood pressure, body mass index and stress. The report also notes 97 percent of those who participated in the assessments, which included questions about workplace culture, said they are proud to be associated with the district.
- Stacy Watts, who teaches fourth grade at Zachary Elementary School, received an award recognizing an outstanding first-year teacher from the local Delta Kappa Gamma chapter.