Dear New Rochelle community,
We are providing you this update of safety and security initiatives because we understand how important this topic is to us all. The safety and security review and upgrades we are undertaking are moving forward at a steady pace and touching on all areas of the City School District of New Rochelle.
Altaris Consulting Group has completed thorough assessments of all buildings and grounds. The firm's security experts have begun building-level emergency planning and response training, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Upgrades to our buildings and security systems are in place or under way. Highlights include: increasing control over who enters our buildings, strengthening windows and classroom doors, and improvements that allow any teacher to deadbolt a door and call 911 from inside the classroom.
In conducting its assessments, Altaris' experts interviewed key administrators, reviewed emergency plans, and inspected our schools and their grounds. Upon completion, the firm provided the District with a comprehensive Improvement Opportunities Report. The company's findings affirmed that we have been following best practices in many areas and showed where improvement opportunities still exist.
Emergency Preparedness and Response Training
Altaris has provided building-level emergency response teams with emergency planning and response training tailored to each individual building. As a result, the teams have expressed increased confidence in their ability to prevent and manage emergencies and have shown enthusiasm for the intensive work ahead within their buildings. Training, tabletop exercises and planning meetings will continue in the fall.
Training will become a permanent aspect of our security protocols. By September 15, all District employees will receive training that will then occur annually. Altaris will assist with delivering this training in staff development sessions as well as an online platform to ensure new employees hired throughout the school year receive this critical training within 30 days of employment.
Beyond mandated training, Altaris will provide role-specific training for our security team. This will be just one step in a series of refinements to our security staffing program. We also expected to revise roles, responsibilities and supervision in the department.
Physical Building Upgrades
Construction and other physical safety and security measures will provide additional safety and security inside and outside the schools. They include improved locks and upgrades to the PA and phone systems, allowing a teacher to deadbolt a door and call 911 from inside the classroom. The thumb-turn deadbolts make it easy to see whether a door is locked.
Other items include new exterior doors on schools and new key entry systems that allow for greater District control. Security cameras are being added and upgraded with new software for higher-quality images and facial recognition capability. Attack-proof glazing will reinforce exterior windows and windows on classroom doors. Doors will be attached by continuous hinges for added strength.
Updating of Emergency Plans
The District is required to update a Districtwide Safety Plan as well as a Building-level Emergency Response Plan for each school building. Altaris is actively working on the revision of each of our plans to ensure compliance with all state regulations and alignment with best practices. Plans must be updated and adopted by the Board of Education before September 1 each year.
This work will continue as Altaris advises us with the expertise and attention that has gained the firm
a strong reputation in districts around the region. A principal reason for the Board's selection of Altaris was that the company does more than the assessment and initial training; its
security experts remain on board to guide a district and provide project management in implementing these improvements.
We look forward to continued benefits from our partnership with Altaris, and we will keep you, the community, apprised of the progress in these quarterly reports and in any other updates that are appropriate to make publicly.
Finally, we thank you, the community, for your continued interest in this most important matter.
New Rochelle Board of Education
Jeffrey Hastie, President
Amy Moselhi, Vice President