West Ada increasing security at middle schools

Posted at 4:18 PM, Aug 20, 2019

MERIDIAN — West Ada School District requires high school students to wear badges, which unlock school buildings. Now the badge system is making way to the middle schools.

“School goes on as normal and of course kids will go out for recess but this way at all times exterior doors are locked,” said chief communications officer for West Ada School District Eric Exline.

The district is also increasing visitor sign-in processes. Now, middle schools will run a visitor’s IDs through a system which cross-checks it with the national sex offender registry. Positive matches are turned away, but visitors that receive the approval are checked in and out.

“Visitor badge, and now in their computer system they have a log of, well this person checked in, and they were going to room 22 or to the cafeteria or wherever it is they needed to visit in the building,” said Exline.

The age difference between high school and middle school draws the question, are middle schoolers too young for this level of responsibility? The district expects that eventually, swiping into school will just become another part of the routine.

“I mean this won’t happen in day 1 of school because you have to build a culture where the kids understand this is all for everybody’s safety,” said Exline.

In years past, middle schools in the area have had multiple safety concerns which led to a lock-down, one in which a former student just wandered inside without anyone noticing.

“Our schools are big they have lots of entrances unless you secure them you really don’t know everybody in the building,” said Exline.

Exline says it’s a balancing act, between increasing security measures and still making the school seem inviting for the kids, but it’s an area they’ll continue to fine-tune.

“It’s important to have that environment that as a kid feel okay at school, I think I’m going to be safe at school today,” said Exline.

The district says there are no plans to bring the badge system to the elementary schools, since unlike middle schools, they are much smaller and usually just one facility.