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Think outside the box: Find ways to do more with less


money-saving1Is it possible to maintain a strong security posture while spending no more or even less on security equipment and services? It is possible. But it will take careful planning and working with…

Times are tough all around. States across the country have passed budgets for 2010 that are 5.4 percent less than a year earlier. Even with the cuts, deficits are expected to reach nearly $15 billion. Deficits of this size result in cuts in personnel, classes and extra-curricular activities, and the closing of some school properties.

The next round of budgeting will continue to be a major test for local school boards, as they plan to maintain children’s educational opportunities and standards with less money. Finding ways to do more became the motto starting in 2009 and may become even more vital this year.

Unfortunately, all too often board members look to cut anything not directly related to classroom instruction. While that is an understandable approach, it can overlook opportunities to spend money in ways that can lead to overall savings for a district.

Take my area of expertise—security–as an example. Conduct an internet news search and every day you will find schools across the nation reporting thefts of computers, audio-visual, lab and athletic equipment, musical instruments, and office equipment. These losses can easily run into five, sometimes six, figures. Replacing windows, doors, playground equipment, air conditioners, or other school property damaged in a single act of vandalism can cost thousands of dollars. And each of these losses reduces students’ educational experiences and opportunities.

So is it possible to maintain a strong security posture while spending no more or even less on security equipment and services? It is possible. But it will take careful planning and working with a security integrator willing to become a true partner in helping to secure your district’s campuses.

As I’ve written here before, any security planning should begin with a risk assessment. This assessment should encompass the entire campus, starting from the outside and spreading into the classrooms, offices, libraries, labs, music rooms, athletic facilities, cafeterias, and auditoriums. Many experienced security integrators will provide a risk assessment for your district at no charge.

In my next blog, I’ll identify some ideas for doing more with less.

PatrickFielPatrick V. Fiel Sr. is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.

Follow Patrick Fiel on Twitter.

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