Chariho ready to tighten security with ‘visitor management system’

Chariho ready to tighten security with ‘visitor management system’

The Westerly Sun
reporter photo

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Enhanced security measures for visitors and volunteers will head the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting of the Chariho School Committee.

The school district is preparing to enact a new “visitor management system,” which will require visitors to present photo identification at the school entrance and wear a badge at all times. The proposed system, similar to the one currently in use in the Westerly school district, would also involve a background check on all visitors, volunteers and vendors.

Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said the new system would be installed in every building.

“When you go into a school from now on, they’ll do a check to see if you are an offender,” he said. “It’s very similar to the Westerly system…It’s another step to make our buildings more secure and to make sure our students are as safe as they can possibly be when they’re in our schools.”

The committee will also be asked to approve the district’s application for state funding for the redesign of the traffic pattern at Richmond Elementary School. The project, which is expected to cost $607,000, is already in the current budget, but state housing aid would reimburse the district for at least 61 percent, or $370,270 of that amount.

Ricci said that the redesign would improve the safety of the parent drop-off area, which currently shares a space with school bus drop-offs. 

“The parent drop-off area is not separated,” he said. “It’s very unsafe. With the location right on [Route] 138, the redesign will separate school buses from parent drop-off and make that process much safer. If we get the approval on that application, we would do it next summer.”

The committee will also receive an update on the drinking water situation at Charlestown Elementary School. The Rhode Island Department of Health told the district to stop using the tap water at the school last spring, after a test revealed contamination in the school’s water, which comes from a well. When the new school year began, the health department directed the school to remain on bottled water until further notice.

“The work is substantially complete, and it has to be tested again,” Ricci said. “We’re hopeful that sometime early next week [the week of Sept. 10] we’ll get a clearance. If the tests don’t come back the way people expect them to, there may be some additional work to be done. The Department of Health is orchestrating that, so it’s really out of our hands.”

The School Committee meeting will take place in the Chariho library at 7 p.m.



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