Bordentown Regional High School is planned to be the benefactor of additional safety enhancements and improvements after the school district received a grant made available through the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The grant, which was awarded to multiple high schools in Burlington County, including Bordentown Regional High School, awarded a total amount of $425,000 to the school for safety improvements and upgrades.
After Kate Reilly, a member of the Bordentown Regional School District, had applied for the grant in December of 2018, the district was awarded the funding earlier this year as the high school plans to upgrade, improve and provide additional safety conditions and technology in the school building and around the campus.
Through funding made available per the grant, which was only offered to county high schools, Bordentown Regional High School officials said they plan to increase the amount of security cameras in the school building as well as upgrade existing ones.
Bordentown Regional School District Superintendent Edward Forsthoffer said that additional signage around the campus will be addressed along with improvements to communications on school grounds such as loudspeakers in bathrooms and other areas that did not have a public address system will be added, and a marquee sign was recently installed in front of the school as a way to communicate with the public.
Forsthoffer explained that the marquee sign is planned to not only advertise general announcements for the high school, but to communicate with the public in times of a disaster or any kind of emergency, and inform people to not come into the building before police arrive as well.
The Bordentown Superintendent of Schools also noted that the high school will incorporate a “flashing light notification system” to the building to notify students outside during an athletic practice or gym class to not enter the building during an emergency or lockdown.
“We don’t want students unknowingly coming back into the building,” Forsthoffer said. “Now, we have a visual way of communicating with them.”
Forsthoffer also said that the additional loudspeakers are important because the building had multiple “dead areas” where it is was difficult for people inside the school to hear. He said that there we also areas not covered by security camera placement, and that the quality of existing cameras needed to be upgraded, too.
District officials said that the grant funding will allow more than 50 new cameras to be placed both inside and outside of the school, which will also include lighting to be upgraded in the parking lot alongside the cameras to enhance recorded footage of the lot.
After a grant-funded assessment of the property was performed by county-assigned professionals, district officials said that a loading dock behind the school was pointed out them and identified as a “weak spot” in the school building where an unidentified person could enter. Officials said the grant money will help build a gate around this dock area.
Prior to the grant-funded enhancements to the high school, multiple safety precautions were already enacted such as a front entrance vestibule, which includes a set of locked doors.
Any individual who plans to enter the front entrance of the school building must be electronically granted permission to enter the vestibule. Once inside the vestibule, a head security official situated within the enclosed space can monitor the individual for further clearance into the building.
As the school district prepares to install and upgrade its security technology around the high school campus, Forsthoffer noted that these improvements come at a crucial time given recent events around the country.
“It’s a matter of when a parent sends their child to school, they have to believe that everything is being done to keep their child safe,” he said.
Bordentown Regional High School Principal Robert Walder also reported that the grant-funded safety improvements serve an important role in providing as many precautions as possible to protect the students.
“It’s hugely important in today’s society,” Walder said. “How many incidents have you heard about over the summer or the last few weeks? We need to take every effort and make every effort to ensure that when the kids get here, they are safe.”