Runcie: 'New Normal' School Security Will Come With Inconvenience
Broward County schools Superintendent Robert Runcie on Wednesday showed off a new system of fences and locked doors at Miramar High School — an example of the "single point of entry" standard that will eventually be in place at all schools in the county.
Here's how it works: During arrival and dismissal times on school days, there will be three or four doors students can use to enter or exit. But during school hours, several fences will funnel visitors to only one entrance. The door will be locked, and there will be police or security staff posted there.
"You won't be able to get in anywhere else because the perimeter is secure," Runcie said during a news conference outside the school.
The door and fencing at Miramar High School cost $540,000. Districtwide, the single point of entry projects are being paid for with $26 million from a 2014 bond referendum. So far, 135 schools have the single points of entry. For the rest of schools, the entrances are in the process of being designed or built.
The changes come amid an increased focus on security following the shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The Parkland high school will have a metal detector — as a pilot program that could be replicated throughout the district — when it reopens on Aug, 15.
The school board decided this week to spend an additional $6 million on security cameras for the district. Some cameras will have a function that allows them to send alerts to security personnel when there is unusual activity.
Runcie said it's a balance to try to keep students safe but also make them feel comfortable.
"There is no way that we're going to implement security measures that this community expects from us and not inconvenience students, not inconvenience visitors and folks in the community," he said. "It's gonna happen. It's going to be the new normal, and folks are going to have to adjust to it."
Runcie said the district plans to be in compliance with a new law that requires a police officer or armed guard on every campus by the first day of school. The district recently began hiring staff members who are not certified law enforcement officers to act as armed security on campuses. Runcie said their weapons will not be concealed.
Runcie and school board members have said they would prefer to hire only police officers for these positions, but there's a shortage of available law enforcement officers in South Florida and there's also not enough money to pay them.
"The Legislature passed a bill, … but they did not provide sufficient funding to allow us to be able to hire at the level we want," Runcie said, echoing complaints from district administrators around the state that the new law creates an unfunded mandate.