MESA COUNTY, Colo. In light of recent school shootings around the nation, District 51 isn't taking any chances when it comes to keeping students safe at school.
A recent Associated Press Analysis finds there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, in addition to other cases of gun violence, in school parking lots and elsewhere on campus when classes weren't in session.
An annual safety update was presented at tonight's School Board Work Session. Officials say they've done a lot of training in order to teach staff what to do in an event of an active shooter. They've even hired a security coordinator to help with training and drills, among other steps to make sure District 51 students are safe.
After the rampage at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, schools around the nation have been beefing up security.
As the Director of Safety and Security at District 51, it's Tim Leon's job to make sure schools are safe.
"Each day I wake up worrying that there could be an incident at one of our schools," says Leon.
In the past year, District 51 staff has undergone additional training and D51 has partnered with Colorado Mesa University for some of their training.
“Worked with John Nicoletti, he's a psychologist on threat assessment," said Leon.
“Lockdown" is now part of school's vocabulary. D51 schools even do drills to practice what would happen if their school went into an emergency lockdown and so far seven schools have implemented keyless lock systems to help.
“What that does is it allows us to secure the building with the simple swipe of a card, within seconds we can have an entire building locked down,” said Leon.
Leon says school security is an on-going effort that doesn't stop with an annual review.
“Evaluate and debrief as incidents happen, not only here, but across the country and use that as a tool for gaging where we're at,” said Leon.
The keyless lock systems are an on-going project for District 51 schools based on funding. The seven schools that have the system in place are Central High, Grand Mesa Middle, Redlands Middle, Clifton Elementary, Mt. Garfield Middle, Duel Emersion Academy and New Emerson. At New Emerson School, the PTA purchased the keyless lock system.
Officials say they plan on adding the system to two high schools this year, which are yet to be determined.
District 51 is also expanding the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Good Students) volunteer program for elementary and middle schools. As well as the ‘Eddie Eagle’ program, which teaches children what to do if they find a handgun or a weapon.
If you would like to volunteer at your child's school for any of the school safety programs, contact your school administrator.