New Check-In System Installed at Fort Smith Schools

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The Fort Smith Public School District is taking a look at how to make their students safer. Administrators say a new security system is in place to better protect students during the school day.

The new high-tech system is part of a pilot program at both Cook Elementary and Trusty Elementary.

Gordon Floyd, ED.D, the Deputy Superintendent at Fort Smith Schools, explained that to get in to the schools now, visitors must first ring a door bell. Secretaries will then talk with the visitor over an intercom system, asking them why they need to be let in to the building. Meanwhile, those secretaries are also looking at surveillance video. After the visitor enters the building, he or she must stop at the office and sign in, before being allowed in the hallways or near any classrooms.

The new system has Jennifer Espinosa, whose children attend Cook Elementary, feeling much safer when she drops her girls off at school.

"I know that I won't have to worry about them when I'm not here," Espinosa said. "I don't have to worry about crazy people getting in and getting ahold of them."

Floyd said administrators are excited about the new system, but are continuing to look for ways it could be improved.

Each school in the district is designed differently, which presents different advantages and disadvantages, Floyd pointed out.

"They're designed entirely differently which presents different problems in terms of how to control access into the front doors," explained Floyd. "The front doors are in different locations. The offices are in different locations. Each school is designed differently."

The district is testing the system out at these two schools before any decision is made about installing the security system district wide, Floyd said.

"We're going to start there see where the problems are see where there's the best way to solve them and move on and look at some different locations," Floyd said.

A handful of schools in the district use a system that buzzes visitors in after they identify themselves over an intercom, without using cameras. Other security systems are under review.