Security changes lock down RBHS


Because proximity cards have not yet been issued, there is an intercom for students to enter the building during the day.

Abby Kempf

Under the request of CPS Insurance Provider America’s First Insurance, RBHS, HHS and the CACC are set to begin implementing a new security system with proximity cards and a buzz-in system.
CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said America’s First Insurance demanded the system be in place to ensure the school’s security. All other CPS schools have the safety system already.
Stiepleman said the company hopes that RBHS can keep better track of students with the system. Every time a student scans into the building with their card, the school will know the student is present. The system also keeps any person without a card from entering the building.
On the second day as superintendent, Stiepleman received a letter telling him that the buzz-in system needed to be instituted at the remaining high schools and that campuses must be closed.
“They were saying if it’s the right thing to do at 19 elementary schools, and it’s the right thing to do at all six middle schools, and it’s right thing to do at two of the high schools. Why is it that we aren’t moving forward with a buzz-in at Rock Bridge, Hickman and the Career Center,” Stiepleman said. “And I think they had a good question to ask.”
America’s First Insurance had originally asked for a completely closed campus to keep students in the locked building, reducing the risk of any accidents. But Stiepleman immediately saw issues with this request.
RBHS principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad quickly defended the motto ‘Freedom with Responsibility’ and simply said no to a closed campus. Combined with the small cafeteria, closed campus would never work at RBHS, Stiepleman said.
“They suggested [to] close lunch and to close AUT off site, and from my perspective there was no way we were going to be able to [do that]. Really it was about honoring the systems that are already in place,” Stiepleman said. “When you say freedom with responsibility at Rock Bridge, it ought to mean something, and if we say freedom with responsibility but you can’t leave, it certainly jeopardizes that motto.”
America’s First Insurance declined to comment on their reasons for the necessity of the proximity card system.
After Stiepleman asked for a compromise of the proximity card system and his request was granted, the system was promptly installed during the summer. The cards have yet to be distributed.
RBHS assistant principal Brian Gaub said the new system will be relatively simple. A computer sets a schedule for when the door will be locked and unlocked. During lunch and passing periods the door will be unlocked so the natural flow of traffic in and out of RBHS will not turn into a jam.
“If you are a visitor, what you can do is push the intercom button and this camera will let them see you down in the main office and then they hit a button and it unlocks the door,” Gaub said. “In the future [students and faculty] will have a [proximity] card and we can scan it to unlock the door.”
Gaub sees the benefits of the new system, however, he sees flaws in the effectiveness of the system’s ability to keep unwanted people out of the building. He also knows if everyone tries to scan their cards when coming back into the school during popular times, such as before and after lunch, the natural flow of traffic will be inhibited.
“There are plenty of downsides to it. The reality of it is that we have lots of exit doors and any time somebody walks out of those, if it doesn’t latch all the way, it’s not locked,” Gaub said. “Also, if you are going out one of the other doors, you can just hold it for somebody else.”
But Gaub said the system is still an improvement. Even if it does not directly make students safer, it ensures students have safety in their minds.
“I think it causes everybody to contemplate security. Say you are coming here in the middle of the hour and some adult that you’ve never seen before runs up and says ‘Hold the door for me.’ That should cause you to think, that person probably doesn’t belong here,” Gaub said. “All it can really do is increase people’s awareness that there should be an element of security.”
By Abby Kempf