School security a continuing project for Creston District

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 8:41 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 12:22 p.m. CDT

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Creston School District has plenty in mind when it comes to making the school buildings safe. There are plans to add a keyless entry system and exterior cameras to the buildings, and handrails to the Creston High School gymnasium. An ALICE training is to be held in the fall for the school district, as well.

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

“The school board has agreed to address all of the safety and security issues made apparent in the coming years,” said Ron Dunphy, Creston board member.


Jeff Bevins, Creston High School assistant principal, and several other Creston School District staff members attended ALICE training in Stuart in June. ALICE is a training program designed to increase the likelihood of escape during the event of an intruder carrying a weapon in a school building.

“ALICE is an alternative to a straight lockdown situation when you have an intruder,” said Bevins. “We had a mixture of patrolmen from all over the state of Iowa, school personnel. We also had DHS people there.”

Bevins described the first scenario the participants did in Stuart.

“First thing we had to do: they said intruder, it was up-to-date, they saw him when he came through the front door, they were saying where they were at to a certain point and then it stopped. And, the only thing we did was sit under a desk. It was 31 people. … 25 of us 31 got shot. And the only reason it stopped is he ran out of bullets,” said Bevins. “It was eye-opening. But when you went to evade and stuff like that, the deaths dropped.”

Participants of the training go through five different scenarios. In the first, they sit in a classroom as a person with a fake gun roams the halls and goes into the classrooms. Current protocol calls for locking the door and staying in the room.

In the second scenario, participants are allowed to create a barrier against the door, but must stay in the room. In the third scenario, participants barricade the door and escape to the outside of the building. In the fourth scenario, participants distract the shooter by throwing tennis balls or other materials at him. In the final scenario, participants do whatever they deem the best in their situation.

“That’s what this training is all about: to increase survivability when that attacker comes in,” said Lt. Chad Cunningham, of University of Akron (Ohio) Police Department. “Looking at one strategy isn’t enough. You have to have multiple strategies and options.”

Cunningham led ALICE training, when it was brought to Union County in February through a Department of Homeland Security grant. The training was held at Lincoln School and Southwestern Community College.

“We will have that this fall,” said Chuck Scott, former interim superintendent. “It is scheduled for this fall for our whole school district. The training is at no cost to us.”

Handrails and entry systems

“Handrails in the bleachers at the high school will be added for the safety of the public attending events in that facility,” Dunphy said.

Three companies bid on the project: Experts Edge, Boland Recreation of Marshalltown and BR Athletic Facility Products and Services.

During an April board meeting, Experts Edge was chosen to install handrails and steps in one section of the visitor and home sides. It will cost the district $8,266.90 for handrails and $6,715 for the steps.

In the 2014-15 school year, a keyless entry system with cameras will be installed at all buildings.

“Current administrators are concerned about how many persons have keys to our buildings who no longer (have) authority to be in our building,” said Dunphy. “Think here how easy and convenient it is to copy a key.”

Boiler rooms and custodial closets will be locked at all times beginning this year, and keyed door latches will be installed if needed. There are also other needs that will be looked at over the next four budget years, including fixing bathroom stalls at the high school and repairing the sidewalk at the Early Childhood Center.

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