Who is visiting your kid's school? Local district takes high tech safety approach
LEELANAU COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- Walk through the front doors at Suttons Bay Public Schools and you can easily see all the signs and the added security measures common at schools these days. There is buzz-in system to get passed the locked doors, signs telling all visitors to report to the main office, and cameras that keep an eye on the parking lot and the hallways within the school.
"It's a scary world out there. It is sad that we need these kind of things, but in the long run it does keep our kids more safe" explains Tim Smith, the school’s Chief Operating Officer.
Almost every security feature you find at Suttons Bay you can find at other schools around Northern Michigan. But at the start of the school year they made an addition that’s unique. They added the School Check In system.
"It allows us to check in visitors and students into our school in a safe manner" explains Smith.
Located in the main office is the system, a computer, touch-screen monitor and bar-code scanner. Every visitor who enters the building scans their driver’s license. The computer then gets to work.
"It does a sexual offender background check so it makes sure that they are safe to be with our kids in our school district" says Smith.
In a matter of seconds, if the visitors record comes back clean, the computer prints out a pass for them. But even the pass is probably not like what's handed at your kid’s school. Explains Smith, "Whats on there is your full name, it also takes a picture of you so it prints out the picture on the badge itself, the school that you have checked into so that we know that you are a legit visitor when you walk the hallways."
If the system finds something in a visitor’s background, administrators are notified instantly. The school has a protocol then they follow. The visitor isn’t allowed out of the office unsupervised, but administrators will work with them to determine the reason and validity of their visit.
For visitors who get a pass, the system also creates a log of when they arrive and when they depart. "When you come back to the office on the badge it actually has a bar code and you can scan it and it automatically checks you out of the system and you are free to leave our building" says Smith.
The school is starting to discover new ways to use the system beyond just visitors. Smith says when elementary students go on field trips, the school can print out individual name tags for each student with pictures, and contact information for the school in case a student gets separated from the group.
With every visitor or student who gets dropped off late or picked up early using the system, a digital log is created every day. School administrators say the new system is simply more comprehensive than the previous methods. But they point out, while high tech, the system was relatively affordable with a price tag around $4000. Smith says they used money from a recent technology and security millage to purchase it.
To learn more about the School Check In system click here.