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Cortlandt School Officials: Security Audits Inevitable

Superintendents at Croton-Harmon and Hendrick Hudson schools say security will be an ongoing discussion in the coming months.
Superintendents at Croton-Harmon and Hendrick Hudson schools say security will be an ongoing discussion in the coming months. Photo Credit: Flickr user davidswayze

CORTLANDT, N.Y. - Cortlandt schools superintendents say security audits are nearly an inevitability following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting Friday.

"It's clearly going to be a conversation over the next month or so, interestingly just when we begin the budget," said Brian Monahan, Hendrick Hudson Schools interim superintendent.

Croton-Harmon School District officials undertook a security audit following June 2012 reports of a stranger on Carrie E. Tompkin's Elementary School grounds.

Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman said school officials' first meeting with the consulting firm was Thursday. Fuhrman says he expects the security audit to be completed by late January.

Since the "stranger" incident, Fuhrman said the district has installed some security measures at Tompkins, such as buzzer-entrance front doors. There are security cameras at all five Hen Hud Schools and Tompkins. The main entrances at Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School also were locked after the incident, according to an email sent to parents by the district.

"It brings up that struggle," about school security Fuhrman said, "How much is enough, and how much is unrealistic."

One of the major challenges both superintendents cited are after-school hours when schools become "community centers." For example, Monahan cited sporting contests, practices and meetings that take place after school. These activities take place just at Hendrick Hudson High School. The "stranger" incident at Tompkins occurred between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m., just about dismissal time.

Monahan said he'd received letters from "a real number of people," who wished there were police officers on campus but called the measure financially unfeasible. Monahan estimated the cost of having officers at all five schools at about $750,000 annually.

Fuhrman cautioned that "the jury's out" on whether this would make schools safer.

"Some people might say it's common sense, and I say it's not common sense," he said. "Unless you're going to put an armed officer in every school in America. I mean, is that what we're really talking about?"

"As someone said, you can either look at this as a school shooting or a shooting that took place at a school," Fuhrman said.

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