New Syracuse School District safety plan has more sentries

The Syracuse City School District has entered a 30-day public comment period on next year’s school safety plan.

It’s something that happens every year with the proposal, public comment and eventual implementation of the safety plan.

“We’re always cognizant as we make changes when we talk to students and staff about what the impact is going to be of what our actions are,” said District Director of Safety and Security Tom Ristoff.

“Part of that for this year is that we’re adding 40 sentry positions, which is our uniform security staff. There’ll be various levels distributed based on district needs, student population,” Ristoff also said.

More sentries come with better detection technology to try and keep weapons out of our schools. Officials are even working with Syracuse Police to get more patrols by school properties.

“We want to be able to have law enforcement be readily available to get to that situation and de-escalate it before it further escalates,” Ristoff said. “Obviously turns into an opportunity for violence or somebody to get hurt.”

As students have been reintroduced to classrooms since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which in turn caused an upward trend of violence in these once hallowed halls of academia, school safety has been an increasingly touchy and vital issue. That being said, Ristoff advocates that these buildings remain some of the safest places for kids to be.

“You see a lot of anxiety or frustration and it doesn’t manifest itself in school. School is a great place for students to learn how to successfully interact with others. And that’s a hard part,” Ristoff said.

To help keep parents and students confident, staff are getting more training, especially in detection of worrisome behaviors.

“They know where to direct a student and or another staff member for resources if they see some things that could be considered a red flag,” Ristoff said.

While there is a lot in this year’s safety plan, the hope is that it will instill safety, not panic.

“We never ever want our schools to look like they’re part of a correctional institution,” Ristoff said. “We basically want them to be warm, welcoming spaces. And there is a fine line there is a balance. We try to put all of our security and safety features to build them into the inherent so that they don’t stand out but at at the same time we keep everybody safe.”

The SCSD safety plan is now on their website. Parents and staff alike are urged to take a look at the plans and give feedback to ensure safety is a community effort this coming school year.

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