By Wilko Martínez-Cachero and Remi Schott
A $700,000 safety plan which includes a single point of entry, double locked doors at the entrance, and identification checked through the National Sex Offender database, was recently implemented at Long Beach High School.
Other measures to bolster the students’ safety at Long Beach High School include the installation of 75 new high-resolution cameras, a security vestibule, blind spots so students can remain hidden in the case of an active shooter, and collaboration with the Long Beach Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department.
“At first, the changes might surprise [the students], but they’ll get used to them and they want to feel safe and feel protected,” Jeffrey Myers, principal of Long Beach High School, said.
Among the additions that Myers described was the single point of entry for the 1,280 students, which he believes will serve as a frontline of defense for the school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School followed the same procedure, but it was ultimately unsuccessful in preventing the deaths of 17 people. Other schools on Long Island, such as Syosset High School and Hauppauge High School, incorporated or are planning to incorporate this idea, showing that Long Beach is not alone.
Not everyone is as comfortable with Long Beach’s reinforced security as Myers. Dane Cenicero, a 17-year-old senior, questions some of the modifications.
“The security doesn’t seem too necessary to have,” he stated. “Long Beach is a good town and something like [a shooting] is very unlikely.”
Cenicero also questioned the school’s single point of entry policy, stating that it would be easier to have access to multiple entrances to prevent entryways from becoming too congested during times of arrival and dismissal.
“We used to have a pretty open campus,” Maria Yaker, a social worker at the high school, said. “Students that graduated were allowed to come in and meet with their teachers or the principal or whoever, but over the past year and a half, it’s not that open to them anymore.”
Now, visitors have to make an appointment ahead of time and are escorted into the building by the person they have an appointment with. Visitors are to be accompanied at all times.
“I know that’s one thing to me that really stands out because I have a lot of students that like to come back and visit me and talk,” she added.
The students might initially be taken aback by the new security changes, but the measures are necessary given recent events, Yaker and Myers said.
“Long Beach has been proactive and not only reactive to school security and safety,” Kim Ashmead, Long Beach PTSA co-president and mother to a Long Beach High School sophomore, said. “I think our children do feel safe and that is the most important thing.”
This is the first full academic year with these changes, but the district has been planning them since before Parkland. On May 15th, the Long Beach Board of Education and residents of the town voted on using the money from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund for security advancements. Once passed, they began the process of implementation. From the total $700,000, $230,000 was earmarked for the new doors and locks, according to Long Beach School District financial analyst Brian Oper.
“To any student that is scared, I would remind them that the security personnel will always do everything possible to keep the school community safe,” Orlando Garcia, the security manager for the Long Beach School District, said.
Long Beach High School remains open to the idea of making more changes in the future. Other schools on Long Island are now equipped with armed security guards, but Myers is cautious to make any guarantees.
“We look at our current situation, meet as building teams, meet as district-level teams, present our ideas at board meetings, at parent meetings, and we hear parents’ concerns. Then, we decide what we are going to do moving forward,” he said.