Auburn City Schools Superintendent Karen DeLano and Auburn Police Division Chief Paul Register spoke to the Auburn City Council this week about measures being taken to ensure safety on all campuses.
The presentation came at the request of the council and in the wake of the school shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 students. The council had also recently heard concerns from residents about the glass lining some classrooms in Auburn High School.
DeLano and Register spoke about annual safety evaluations, crisis training and other measures taken to secure the schools, without going into too much detail.
"I want everyone to be mindful that full disclosure and discussions of security procedures and efforts compromise the safety of our children," DeLano said. "As we appreciate concern and always welcome suggestions, we will protect our environment without publicly outlining details of our efforts."
Two recent efforts that were touched on during the presentation are ongoing assessments from both a private company and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"We met with DHS; Auburn High School is the first school in the state of Alabama to have the DHS come and do a physical assessment of the school," Register said. "That has already happened."
Register said the department will be returning to do a comprehensive site visit and provide feedback to ACS.
Additionally, National School Safety and Security Services will conduct an assessment of all city school campuses.
"We have a two-fold assessment going on, and once we do those things, we will determine where we are as far as the physical structures of the schools, the staffing levels that we have, our policies and procedures," Register said. "We''ll continue to look at those."
In the meantime, officer presence has increased in schools, though not every campus has a full-time officer, Regiser said.
DeLano said the lack of a full-time officer on each campus is partly a budgetary problem, but no decisions will be made on increasing any staff until the two assessments are completed.
"We would like to wait and see what their recommendations are before we add anywhere," she said. "I feel very comfortable that we can get someone to school extremely fast."
DeLano also said she intends to act on the recommendations from the two entities conducting the studies, but she does fear high-cost items.
"I do think there is that fear that they may come back with $5 million worth or $6 billion worth of things you can do. You're always vulnerable," she said. "But we certainly are planning to take action on what they tell us, but we'll have to prioritize, obviously."
She stressed the importance of continuing to provide services to troubled students and that ACS administration is constantly reviewing its safety efforts.
"We did not just get concerned about safety recently," DeLano said. "I want everybody not only to be safe, but to feel safe. That is very critical."