Wellsville Schools continue safety push

WELLSVILLE — All three schools in the Wellsville Local School District will receive safety upgrades.

The Wellsville Board of Education on Monday passed two resolutions, one of which includes a contract with Clearview Tinting to install 3M safety film in various strategic locations throughout Garfield and Daw elementary buildings, in addition to the high school. The other resolution calls for the installation of the Threat Extinguisher safety system for all three schools. The resolutions were approved, 4-0, with board member Tom Brophey absent.

The safety film installation and its needed materials cost $30,422, while the Threat system installation cost $39,788. Initially quoted together at $70,201, the district will receive a nearly $6,000 discount as implemented by the company, making the final total of both projects around $64,422.

The recommendations were made at the requests of Superintendent Richard Bereschik and the district’s safety committee, who have suggested multiple changes in terms of safety and security to the district following a rash of threats made during the 2017-18 school year, not only within the district and Columbiana County but throughout the country.

Prior to a vote, a video was presented showing the duty of the safety film, which is used to provide an extra shield for doors and windows in the event an intruder attempts to either shoot or smash the windows.

Described by Bereschik as “obviously the difference between life and death in a situation,” the video consisted of a side-by-side comparison of a shooter aiming at door-length windows — one without the film and the other with the protection. The latter of the two scenarios takes the gunman more than 90 seconds to get through the window, while the former he got through instantly.

“The safety committee has endorsed it, the police department is endorsing it,” Bereschik said. “I just think it can make all the difference in the world.”

Bereschik said the film will be used on the first-floor windows along with all glass-entry doors.

A video also was presented on the Threat Extinguisher, which is designed to reduce response time for first responders along with start safety protocols while also providing a non-lethal defense for users.

Invented by Sam Fasone of Westerville, Ohio, the extinguisher is set up on either a “smart base” or “smart case,” to which once removed, a loud sound is produced along with a signal which immediately notifies first responders of a threat and provides information — such as the location of the extinguisher and when it was utilized — for those officers.

The canister itself contains tactical-grade pepper spray — measured at 5 million on the Scoville scale — which can be shot in an over-20-foot range as a last resort to take down the assailant.

The Threat Extinguisher was recently installed in the Columbiana school district, and according to Bereschik, several other schools, including Leetonia, are looking into installing the product.

“I think what we were most impressed with was the fact that, as soon as it was picked up, the phones were called within two seconds max … “ Bereschik said. “Plus the resource officer gets a call, and it also tells us exactly where the signal is being given from.”

Bereschik said the district will also consider acquiring lanyards to which teachers can press a button to alert first responders, along with lanyards to assist children who are facing special medical needs.

The additions of the safety film and Threat Extinguisher are among the latest changes approved by the board as the district continues to take safety precautions for its student body and staff.

Among the changes already made include the hiring of student resource officers through the Wellsville Police Department in all three school buildings, which started last year and will continue this year, and the introduction of the Raptor security system, which the board approved during the summer.

The Raptor system is used for catching potential criminals along with vetting volunteers looking to work with the school district. Through this system, guests would be required to swipe their driver’s licenses, to which the district can determine with a 20-second timespan if that guest has any prior criminal records that may be cause for concern, but can also vet volunteers without causing inconveniences to them.

Bereschik said the Raptor is in the final stages of installation and is expected to be operational within the next several weeks.