At least 43 schools in Ohio arm teachers and staff, report says

Ohio Department of Public Safety won’t say which districts have armed staff.

Controlled door access, visitor screening and mass notification systems are the most common measures used in Ohio schools to protect kids and teachers, according to a new statewide survey sent to 5,620 buildings.

Panic buttons, radio hookups to first responders, protective windows and physical barriers are used in fewer schools, according to the 63-page report from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Staff are armed in at least 43 school buildings across the state, according to the survey results.

“Each school is unique and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for improving school security. Given its primary mission of education, each school must evaluate security in relation to its own needs, budget and values,” the report said.

More than half of the survey respondents said school resource officers are in their buildings at least part of the day.

For those districts without police officers, 2.5 percent reported that they use former cops or military members for security, 4.3 percent hired off-duty police officers, and 10 percent relied on school staff.

A request for documents to determine which schools allow armed staff was denied by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, citing an exemption to the state’s open records law.

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Among schools that don’t have police resource officers, 84 percent say they have no armed personnel in their buildings.

Security upgrades can be costly. For example, adding security cameras, electronic locks and card readers and other equipment to control access to a 180,000-square-foot K-8 grade building would run about $593,000, according to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Adding safety film to windows runs $13 per square foot while adding ballistic resistant glazing costs $315 per square foot.

Data is lacking about which security systems are most effective, the survey said. Also, the state does not have a clearinghouse to collect and share info on which systems are in use across Ohio.

The report, required by legislation adopted last year, was supposed to examine what security measures schools have, what upgrades are available, what steps are the most cost-effective, how many buildings have school resource officers and the number of buildings using other people to provide security.

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