PLAISTOW — Nobody gets by Fran Allen without a greeting and having their picture taken.
Allen, Pollard School’s secretary, sits behind a window at the main office of the school every day and only unlocks the door after a visitor signs in and has their picture taken using a new computerized security system.
Pollard is the only local school to use the program, Complete Campus Security System, and administrators said it has taken security at the school to a new level. “It can tell us everyone who is in the building at any time,” Principal Michelle Auger said. The computer software and camera were free to Pollard School, and are connected to a small laptop
computer the school owned. After visitors type in their names and where they are going in the school, they have their picture taken and a label is printed with that information.
“That’s the only negative part, nobody likes wearing their picture around,” Allen said.
One of the best features is that the computer sits on a ledge outside the office and can be easily disconnected in case of an emergency or fire drill. That allows school administrators to check on visitors and volunteers at any time, Allen said. The computer also is connected to the Internet and the federal sex offender registry. Allen said the computer would alert her if a sex offender attempted to enter the school. But, Allen said, she doesn’t leave all of the school’s security up to the computer. “If we don’t recognize a parent, we always ask for ID,” she said.
Even though the computer and program have been in use since September, Allen said she still regularly gets comments from visitors and parents about it.
All of the visitors’ names and photographs are stored in the computer, along with the amount of time a visitor is in the school, Allen said. That also makes it easy for the school to know how much time volunteers are donating. Along with the computer program, each Pollard School student received a photo ID with the name of their parents and address. “The parents really like this part of it,” Allen said. Timberlane Superintendent Richard La Salle said the program has been a success so far and officials would consider using it in other schools in the district.
Rick Hagan, CEO of Ident-A-Kid, said between 5,000 and 10,000 schools across the country use the software. It was put on the market in 2004 and is given away free to any school who requests it, Hagan said. “We saw a need for tightened security at our schools,” he said.
By Eric Parry
February 05, 2010 03:04 am