At Thursday’s Regular Board Meeting, Dr. Gregory J. Pilewski, the Superintendent of the North Little Rock School District, announced a proposal to reorganize the district’s Safety, Security, and Emergency Medical Services Department to immediately enhance safety at all campuses.
The North Little Rock Board of Education unanimously approved the initial proposal, which now goes to an employee committee for discussion and approval. Final approval of the reorganization plan will be considered by the Board of Education at its next meeting.
“Under the visionary leadership of our Director, Chief Hayward Finks, our proposed reorganization plan will provide a robust, proactive infrastructure to keep our students and staff safe. This demonstrates our continued commitment that safety and security is our top priority,” said Dr. Pilewski.
This proposal includes the following safety measures throughout the North Little Rock School District:
Eleven (11) armed, commissioned school security officers, located at the nine elementary campuses, Pike View Early Childhood Center, and North Little Rock Academy;
Twenty-seven (27) security officers to provide unarmed security, in partnership with armed school resource officers (SROs) from the North Little Rock Police Department, at the Center of Excellence, North Little Rock High School, North Little Rock Middle School – Seventh & Eighth Grade Campus, and North Little Rock Middle School – Sixth Grade Campus;
One (1) security captain and two (2) security sergeants to provide supervision and accountability throughout the Safety Services Department;
Three (3) technology positions that will oversee digital safety using cameras, alarms, and new innovative automation, along with district and campus-based crisis intervention planning;
Upgraded security protocols that align with national safety recommendations for best practices in schools;
Threat assessment teams at each campus and Central Office sites;
Issue new security uniforms for all Safety Services Department personnel for improved visibility;
Enhanced security measures at extracurricular and special events sponsored by the school district;
Conduct school climate surveys to determine where safety can be improved and to develop plans of action.
In April 2022, the Board of Education approved the purchase of the Raptor School Safety Technology, which provides visitor, volunteer, and emergency management and scans visitors in real time for sex offender status or custodial restrictions, and Opengate Weapons Detection System, a system that automatically screens people as they enter buildings, including their backpacks, to detect weapons that can cause mass casualties. These new systems will be in place at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
In addition, the district will be implementing STOPit, an online reporting tool designed to stop bullying, cyber abuse, and other inappropriate behaviors, consisting of an app and an incident management system for school administrators, which will also be implemented this coming school year.
“Nationally, there is tremendous interest and urgency in improving school safety. Approval of this plan shows the Board’s commitment to school safety,” said Chief Hayward Finks, Director of Safety, Security, and Emergency Medical Services. “We want families, students, and staff to know that they are safe while on our campuses. I look forward to working with Dr. Pilewski, administrators, staff, parents, and students to see this plan realized,” he added.
The reorganization proposal either meets or exceeds most of the recommendations outlined by the Arkansas School Safety Commission.
With final approval, the Board of Education plans to invest more than $700,000.00 over a two-year period to fully implement the proposal.
Finally, the North Little Rock School District will form a School Safety Task Force, which will include members of our Safety Services Department, the North Little Rock Police Department, students, families, and other stakeholders to provide recommendations on school safety.