Over the last few months, there has been much discussion in the media regarding student safety and security in our schools – especially after the terrible tragedy at Parkland High School in Florida. With these recent events, I felt the need to reassure our families by sharing the efforts of the HCA school board and our staff as we ensure the day to day safety of our students and employees.
During our last school year, I partnered with several members of the school resource officer team from Orange County in an effort to modify our existing emergency plans and create a lockdown procedure. We have continued to tweak these plans as we have run drills periodically throughout the school year.
Last November, our school board began the process of reviewing the safety of our building and grounds. At that meeting, we decided to begin the process of modifying our facility to increase the level of security on campus. The process of identifying and modifying an existing building does take time, but I can happily share that we are now at the install part of that process. The following upgrades will be taking place over the next several weeks:
- New entry doors are being installed at every entrance. These upgraded doors are break-resistant. At all three of our school entries, we will have key card and keypad access, negating the need to lock/unlock doors manually. This will ensure that our building remains secure 24 hours a day.
- A new video entrance system will be installed at our main office entry – allowing our school administration team to identify our visitors prior to granting access to our facility.
- A DVR system with security cameras are being installed on campus for school administration to monitor throughout the day. These cameras will give us a full view of our campus.
We have identified several additional areas that we are continuing to explore – including our visitor system, student check-in/check-out, and student pick-up. We also have a capital project planned for this summer, with our main entrance receiving a facelift to ensure accessibility and encourage a higher level of school safety. Additionally, our staff has recently undergone training that we provided in partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to prepare for a number of situations, including active shooter situations.
As an HCA Parent, there are several ways that you can help us ensure security on campus.
- Always enter campus through our main entrance by pressing the call button. School administration will buzz you through.
- When entering/exiting, never hold or prop open the door for others.
- When visiting, always check-in at the main office.
- Please use your signs provided by HCA in the child carpool line.
- When on campus, please report any suspicious individuals, vehicles, or behavior to school administration.
- The most advantageous thing that you as a parent can do each and every day is cover our campus in prayer.
Let me also make a general plea for your assistance. Providing a rigorous academic program starts by securing exceptional faculty and staff and partnering it with a safe and secure atmosphere and an excellent curriculum based on our Christian worldview. These items are budgeted every year based on our current student enrollment.
Our current school security/safety endeavors mentioned at the beginning of this email are unbudgeted items. If you are interested in supporting these initiatives financially, you can do so by sending in a check with “School Security” marked in the memo line. Any donations made to Hillsborough Christian Academy (beyond normal tuition and fees) are tax deductible according to current IRS guidelines.
It is our hope and prayer that our emergency training will never be needed, but please be assured, we will do everything we can to keep our students safe. We are grateful for the trust you place in us every day for your child’s academic and spiritual development, and we look forward to our continued partnership for many years to come!
Bryan K. Turner, MA
Hillsborough Christian Academy