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Schools Ramp Up Security, But Some Face Staffing Shortfalls

By Michael Klazema on 3/14/2019

How can schools protect children from the many threats to their safety while maintaining a comfortable educational environment? School districts around the nation continue to grapple with that question, with a variety of solutions ranging in complexity seeking to limit the opportunity for risky situations to develop. From greater scrutiny during hiring to the integration of new technological solutions, many schools seem willing to try any new idea that may improve parental confidence in school safety.

One school district in Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently began to implement a unique access control system set up in each school's front office. Developed by Raptor Technologies out of Texas, the visitor management system installed in each office includes a small optical card reader. All non-staff adult visitors to the school must first visit the front office and insert their state ID card or driver license into the reader.

The device captures the visitor's name, date of birth, and photo. Acting like a hardware version of an offender check by backgroundchecks.com, the device electronically consults the state sex offender registry for a match. Those whose IDs return a match will not be allowed to enter the school. Currently, only Cedar Rapids elementary schools have the new technology; middle and high schools will receive them by the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Systems such as these may offer a simple way to provide some peace of mind regarding visitors, but what about ensuring the reliability and safety of those charged with working directly with children? According to the Chillicothe Gazette in Ohio, screening procedures in the area are contributing to ongoing staffing shortages. The extensive licensing requirements for positions such as bus driver and the screening process for food workers and substitute teachers, the Gazette says, may be dissuading applicants.

Safe drivers are reportedly in short supply in the region, with school supervisors and even the district mechanic taking over bus route duties on days when no substitutes are available. Driving not only requires passing a criminal background check but also undertaking specific licensing courses and obtaining vehicle-specific certificates. 

Though the process is multi-faceted, district transportation supervisor Dustin Britton believes the inherent pressure of safely driving children may be the largest contributing factor to the shortage. However, shortages in other positions are reportedly emerging as well, with few backup options available. 

While licensing procedures may place a burden on understaffed districts, background checks don't always have to—especially for organizations that often rely on temporary employees, including schools. At backgroundchecks.com, we provide a clear pathway to understanding more about who wants to work for you. With an array of products designed to aid businesses with hiring temporary workers safely, your organization can avoid labor shortages without sacrificing safety or neglecting due diligence. 


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