Security upgrades among changes students will notice in Park Hill schools

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Students returning to school in the Northland may notice changes at their schools aimed at improving safety.

In the Park Hill district, board members hired the district’s first-ever director of safety and security. Chad Phillips most recently worked for the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of his first duties in the position include overseeing security upgrades. All of the district’s 18 schools now have video doorbells. The system forces visitors to ring a doorbell and communicate with a staff member inside the school via video before the staff member grants the person access.

The idea is to allow staff to verify a person’s identity before letting them into the building. The district spent just under $62,000 to purchase and install the video doorbells.

"Overprotective is not in my vocabulary," Phillips said. "I would rather err on the side of caution for the safety of our school and students and staff than feel like I'm overprotective."

At the district’s high school, students and visitors will notice redesigned entryway lobbies. The new setup prevents visitors from gaining access to the school’s hallways. Now, visitors will have to check in at an office.

"In my opinion, this is a very huge upgrade for the district. Before this, all too often visitors could just walk in the main door and they weren't even noticed until they reached the reception desk which is well inside the school, with open access to hallways inside the school," Phillips pointed out.

Safety was top of mind going into the new school year at another Northland district. For the first time, teachers in the North Kansas City School District conducted hands-on active shooter training. The trainers and teachers said going through scenarios makes the message stick more than sitting in a class.

School begins Wednesday for both districts.

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