How do you guard the sprawling Central Regional High School campus once dubbed "the largest ranch house in Ocean County?"
The answer: not easily.
The 272,000 square-foot building has myriad wings and roughly 25 entrances, Business Administrator Kevin O'Shea said.
Central Regional Board of Education President Keith Buscio said at a recent Board of Education meeting that instead of sharing one Berkeley police resource officer, both the high school and Central Regional Middle School would each have one of their own.
The resource officers will be on duty through June 30, Buscio said.
"We do have to be more vigilant," Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said. "If you see a door ajar, pull it shut. We have to make sure we change our mindset, be a little more vigilant with our entrances."
The two officers will be paid for with School Choice money, he said today. The state selected Central as a "choice" district last year. Central takes in students from districts around Ocean County and is reimbursed $14,600 per student.
"The officers will be in the school during the school hours and follow the calendar year, but will be used in the community when school is not in session," Parlapanides said. "So Central is basically paying for two police officers for in Berkeley."
All of the high school's entrances were "re-keyed" for added security in the summer of 2011, since the locks had not been changed in years, O'Shea said earlier this week.
"We felt there were too many keys that had been circulated and unaccounted for," he said. "Now we only give a specific amount of keys out to staff each year and have them return them at the end of the year via a sign-in, sign-out process."
"We have too many entrances and need to secure our classroom locks and are adding additional card swipe entrances for better security," Parlapanides said.
Central Regional High School students often go outside when changing classes as a "short cut" to get from one section of the massive building to another.
"In this way, we try to make it more of a college experience, where students go from one building to another," O'Shea said. "But in light of the situation in Connecticut, we obviously want to focus more on security. We might have to curtail that a bit. This is something the resource officers can work with us on."
The police resource officers handle certain student issues, including attendance and residency verification and disciplinary issues both inside and outside the schools, O'Shea said.
The Berkeley police officers are available through a shared services agreement with Berkeley Township, he said.