La Grange school leader: ‘A chilling reminder these drills are important’
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:17AM
LA GRANGE — Area school leaders said the Connecticut school shooting underscores the need for constantly improving security measures and school safety.
“Just last week we had a lockdown drill,” said Superintendent Tim Kilrea of Lyons Township High School, which has campuses in La Grange and Western Springs.
“Our local law enforcement gives us suggestions for improvement or points out what we’re doing well,” Kilrea said. “Today is a chilling reminder these drills are important.”
As word of the mass killing at a Newtown, Conn., grade school spread, the matter came up in numerous classrooms, Kilrea said.
“We use situations like these for student discussion,” he said. “It’s all very tragic, a reminder we must continuously revise and re-evaluation our safety procedures to make sure we’re doing our very best.”
Superintendent Warren Shillingburg of La Grange Elementary District 102 said students there likely didn’t hear of the tragedy during the school day; smartphones and other personal devices aren’t permitted.
The matter is best left to parents to discuss with their children, Shillingburg said.
“The best thing they can do is make their children feel safe,” he said. “Our schools are very safe. No one is let into the schools unless they’re checked into the office. We don’t let strangers in.”
Superintendent Glenn Schlichting said La Grange-Countryside Elementary District 105 staff members were kept up to date on the tragedy through emails throughout the day. Teachers were asked to be very visible as school let out, he said.
“Many of our staff members were very upset when they heard about the tragedy,” Schlichting said. “Our reaction is sadness. It’s hard to put into words a tragic event like this.”
Entrances to the district’s four elementary schools and Gurrie Middle School were revamped in the past two years during a major construction project so that visitors are buzzed into a secure area.
Shillingburg said administrators from the high school and surrounding feeder schools have been meeting with area police to compare policies and procedures and coordinate safety efforts.
“We try to make the system as perfect as possible and learn from each other,” he said.
Doors are locked, and visitors to District 102’s four elementary schools must be buzzed in to the office. A camera outside Park Junior High School in LaGrange Park helps office personnel screen visitors before allowing them into to a hallway in front of the office.
At Lyons Township, visitors are required to have an appointment before being admitted to the buildings by security personnel. Visitors also wear a photo ID tag produced from a driver’s license.