New gate part of school security measures

The new gate was installed near the tennis courts to provide security and safety in the back lot of school.

Hannah Kennedy

The new gate was installed near the tennis courts to provide security and safety in the back lot of school.

In January of 2017, a company called Safe Havens International performed a safety and security audit for the entire Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) to assess the safety and security at all schools throughout the district.

One of the main issues Safe Havens International brought up regarded the separation of students and vehicle traffic in the Homestead parking lot. According to the Safe Havens International report, 40% of school-related fatalities are due to school transport. These statistics and audits, among other factors, caused MTSD to evaluate the implementation of a security gate in the back parking lot, according to Kyle Thompson, director of buildings and grounds. “There are so many students going back there after school,”  Thompson said. “We had to figure out a way to get that physical separation.”

A test run was ran over the summer with recreational camps to test the feasibility of a physical barrier. Gates were used to block access to the back parking lot.

“We found that the separation was night and day,” Thompson said. As a result, the district then hired Entrance Systems of Wisconsin to install a new, automatic gate that could be controlled by remote, FOB or a timer.

Installation of the traffic gate took two weeks and is now permanently located near the tennis courts at Homestead.

Teachers or staff can use their district, security FOB keys to operate the gate. It can also be opened by a remote, similar to a garage door opener, or from the Buildings and Grounds office. The gate is controlled just as any door or entrance would be. The Buildings and Grounds office is able to monitor the gate via camera and has a computer system in place to track the number of entrances daily. The ultimate goal of the gate is to limit the amount of unwanted traffic behind the school. 

For the most part, the gate has just been seen as another form of school security. However, it poses some impositions for staff and students, particularly traveling staff. For traveling teachers who have designated spots in the back of the school, they use the gate regularly. Being able to access the back lot quickly as they go between schools for classes is important.

“The only impact that the gate has on me is when I arrive and leave throughout the day,” one traveling teacher said. They agree that it does slow drivers down and reduces the risk of unsafe drivers having contact with students. Teachers recall having previously seen parents or others who are not staff, driving fast or recklessly behind the school. 

As for students, the gate was put in place with their safety being the number one factor. Thompson explained how the district budgets and chooses which projects are of utmost importance. The district evaluated all security measures and decided that a gate was needed when pertaining to student safety.

For students on the tennis, soccer or football teams, accessing the back parking lot was once the norm. Now, they need to park in other lots not behind the gate.

“I was really unhappy with the gate because it affects sports, such as girls tennis. We are no longer able to park by the courts and have to move all of our stuff from the lots to the courts, rather than parking by it,” Sasha Shapsis, senior tennis player, said.

Other students expressed similar concerns about how it will inconvenience parking and moving equipment for sports.

“It’s just something new and an adjustment,” Nicole Maas, buildings and grounds assistant, said. 

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