As students return to class Wednesday, SD2 makes adjustments to improve safety

2012-12-31T17:30:00Z 2013-01-02T06:42:48Z As students return to class Wednesday, SD2 makes adjustments to improve safetyBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Over the winter break, School District 2 leaders made official changes they put in place last month in response to the Dec. 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first-graders and six school staff members were shot to death.

When students return to class on Wednesday, all SD2 employees will be required to wear name badges and secondary-exterior doors at the schools will stay locked. 

Visitors to all schools will be required to check in at the school's main office and also wear a pass identifying them. 

In an email sent on Monday to district parents, staff and community members, Superintendent Terry Bouck re-emphasized the district's commitment to student safety even if it comes at the cost of comfort.

"At times this may be inconvenient and not feel as welcoming as in the past, but student and staff safety is our number-one priority," he wrote.

Also planned for January is a community forum on school safety sponsored by SD2, the Billings Chamber of Commerce and other community organizations. 

The district will announce the date and time of the forum as soon as it's set. 

In the week following the Sandy Hook shootings, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John met several times with Bouck and SD2 leadership as the district dealt with various rumors and threats.

Working together, St. John increased the police presence at Billings schools throughout the week, and Bouck dispatched his administrative staff to help watch doors and hallways.

At a press conference held late that week, they announced their intentions to hold the community forum as way to open a dialog on school safety. Bouck also talked of using the district's safety committee to examine the concerns and ideas that would come out of the community meeting. 

In his letter to the community, Bouck stated again the district's plan to use the safety committee to help facilitate the community forum. 

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