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East Williston district to fence in elementary school

The school board is still deciding on details

The school board is still deciding on details regarding the fence around North Side School in East Williston, seen in 2014. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The East Williston school district plans to build a fence around its elementary school to keep students from running off-site and to block potential assailants from entering the building.

School board president Mark Kamberg announced the plan after a Wednesday night work session during which the district’s safety committee recommended adding a perimeter fence to North Side School.

Committee members noted that North Side is the only school in the district that doesn’t have a fence.

“I feel that if someone drives by our school who even has an inkling in their head of doing something crazy, we look lackadaisical and, frankly, crazy,” said Michelle Grosskopf, a safety committee member. “It is so strange that we do not have any perimeter boundary.”

Many details haven’t be determined, including the height and style of the fence, and when it will be constructed, Kamberg said.

Parents in the audience of about 35 people said they believe a fence won’t keep an armed intruder from trying to harm students, but still supported the idea of adding a fence to school property.

“None of us want to be sitting here a year from now saying, ‘We should have put up a fence,’ ” said Moura Brush. “Proactive is the way to be.”

North Side’s campus occupies an entire block and is bordered by heavily traveled Wheatley and East Williston avenues, and Downing Street and Andrews Road, which are residential thoroughfares.

Nicholas Fusco, the district’s school facilities director, showed board members a map depicting where the committee suggests installing the fence. The depiction shows a fence splitting the south-side playground, a move that residents opposed. Students use the grassy field at the corner of Andrews and Downing as their playground for recess.

“Do I want my child to go to a prison camp? No,” Al Testani said at the meeting. “But we got to have the fence around the entire school. This is an excellent school district, but I don’t want it to be the last place my daughter goes to in the morning.”

Kamberg said the fence probably won’t be installed in time for the fall semester because of the lengthy process of getting plans drawn up, seeking state education department approval, getting bids for the work and approving one.

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