A Mint Hill preschool is asking for the community’s help to beef up security at the school in response to the recent Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Connecticut.
Blair Road United Methodist’s Preschool/After School Care needs to raise about $6,000 more to complete its security upgrade wish list: video cameras, locks on all the classroom doors and blinds on all the windows. Parents, church members and staff already have donated about $1,750, Angie Lord, director of the school, said. The project is dubbed S.O.S., or Saving Our School.
To raise money, the school will host Parent Date Night, providing childcare from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. The event is open to children from birth to fifth grade. Dinner will be provided for the children. All staff have cleared criminal background checks and are CPR and first aid certified. The cost is $20 for one child, $30 for two children and $35 for three or more children. Preregistration is required.
Lord was eating lunch at Showmars in Mint Hill with her husband XX – who serves as associate pastor at the church – when she heard about the shooting.
“By the time we got back to the church, we were getting phone calls asking about our safety procedures and parents were coming in to pick up their children,” she said. “Immediately we started revisiting the procedures we had in place.
“People think you’re in a bubble being in a church, and that’s not the case,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to protect these kids and staff. Do I think we are going to have a mad-man come to our church? No, I hope not, but we want to be prepared.”
Part of that preparation meant seeking advice from the Mint Hill Police Department.
Capt. Scott Hall said schools and day care facilities should consider video cameras, including some watching main hallways, and restricting access beyond a front entryway either by using a buzzer system or having someone watch the area. He recommends having someone watching camera monitors, too, and using radios to alert other staff members to people entering the building.
“You need to be careful as far as restricting areas for people that are not employees there,” he said. “A lot of times we kind of drop our guard when things mellow down and we need to stay proactive and remain on our guard. If something doesn’t seem right to you, report it as quickly as possible. Even if it’s just a vehicle in the parking lot you’ve never seen before, report it. Let us determine why they’re there.”
And that means pre-planned safety policies and practicing them with drills. Hall, who helps to lead a S.W.A.T. Program with officers from Mint Hill, Matthews and Pineville, said Mint Hill officers are available to help schools like Blair Road with those drills.
“Have some people assigned to security, just like you would for first aid training,” he said.
Want to help?
To register for Parent Date Night, call Ellen at 704-545-0772.
To donate, send a check payable to Blair Road Preschool, 9135 Blair Road, Mint Hill, NC 28227, attention Angie Lord. Write “school safety” in the note.
To schedule a safety drill for your preschool, day care or after school care program, call Mint Hill Police Capt. Scott Hall or Lt. John Rowell at 704-545-1085.