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Cranbury school administrators planning security improvements

The Cranbury School District will spend $963,000 to pay for a door security project to better secure the Cranbury School, with the ability to put the school on lockdown in a matter of seconds.

The district is transitioning away from having keys to open and lock doors to a swipe card system, “so it’s an upgrade in technology because that’s the way entries are going,” Cranbury Board of Education member Evelyn Spann said on Oct. 16.

“It does provide us a better entry system, a keyless entry system,” she said.

The equipment, due to be installed in the upcoming months, will give teachers the ability to automatically lock down their classroom with the touch of a button, to disable the swipe-card access to the room, according to district administrators.

Staff in the main office will have the ability to disable card reader access for the entire school.

“We would be the first (in New Jersey) to have both global and local lockdown capability,” Chief School Administrator and Principal Susan L. Genco said.

The system will also enable officials to see if a door had been propped and allow for greater control of access in other cases as well.

“You have the ability to schedule every single door down to the minute how you want it to be,” Business Administrator Nicole Petrone said, in offering that the system will allow officials to be “proactive in security.”

“The door access control project will replace our older interior doors and retrofit the access control system on our newer interior doors,” Petrone said in an email on Oct. 17 “Swipe cards will be used by staff as part of the access control system. This is that same as what is currently done on our exterior doors.”

School security has received more focus in New Jersey and around the country in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a high school, in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year. Administrators in the East Brunswick School District decided after the Parkland shooting to put armed police officers in the district’s schools.

Princeton High School had a security breach in February when a 25-year-old man boarded a school bus in Cranbury and then entered the high school at about 7:20 a.m. It later was revealed he was a former high school student.

Princeton administrators said they had done a security audit of the district’s schools in January and announced in February steps to increase security at the high school, including saying all doors to the school “will be locked during arrival times as well as during the school day.” District administrators have called safety a “top priority.”

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