District 65 Council gives green light for new security positions

District 65 Assistant Superintendent of Operations Terrance Little speaks to board members about school security updates during a July 13 meeting. Credit: Evanston/Skokie School District 65 YouTube

The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education unanimously voted on Wednesday, July 13, to create several new district-wide jobs designed to improve building safety and security at all schools.

The vote, held at a special morning meeting at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center, calls for hiring to fill new positions, including 16 concierges who will work at the main entrance to individual school buildings, check in visitors and monitor any people who move and off the school campus.

In addition, these gatekeepers will report to the manager and deputy manager of prevention and special response, two more new positions for which the district is already interviewing candidates for the time being, Deputy Superintendent of Operations Terrance Little said Wednesday.

The special prevention and response manager and assistant manager will have police or military training and will lead any district response to crisis situations, such as an intruder or an active shooter, Little and Superintendent Devon Horton said.

The special response team will also provide “direct daily safety measures for the superintendent and board of education members,” according to job listings on the district’s website.

At the moment, individual schools don’t have someone on staff whose main job is to check doors, monitor entrances and conduct tours inside and outside the building, according to Little. As a result, the district needs to invest more time and resources in proactive safety precautions, he said.

“I can honestly say that we are not in a preventative situation. ‘Insurance’ and ‘prevention’ are two different things,” said Little. “We’re not being preemptive because we’re in a great environment and a great place, but it’s like Highland Park: anything can happen.”

The district is also in talks with several software companies to release new technology that tracks students’ locations throughout the day and allows faculty, staff and administrators to communicate about emergencies more easily, according to Little’s presentation to members. of the board and a memo posted online with the agenda for the meeting. These companies include Navigate360, Smart Tag, Hall Pass, and Centegix.

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