WOOLWICH TWP. — A lot of hand shaking, hellos, and small talk kicked off the annual meeting among Kingsway Regional school administrators and local law enforcement this past August during their annual security update.
The casualness of the kickoff and close quarters intimated mutual respect and friendship among all that gathered in Kingsway’s Board Conference room, much like old friends who hadn’t seen one another in a while.
“There is a deep respect that we have for one another and for our individual responsibilities and a shared purpose in keeping our kids and staff safe,” said Superintendent Dr. James J. Lavender.
“I can pick up the phone and get anyone of our police chiefs to respond immediately in the event of a problem or a concern. In return they each have my cell phone and can get in touch with me at anytime. Our school community really benefits from a strong relationship between school administration and local law enforcement,” Lavender continued.
Kingsway is a seven to twelve regional school district that serves five municipalities and covers 54 square miles. Because Kingsway’s home is in Woolwich Township Police Chief Russel Marino and the Woolwich Township Police Department take the lead on all emergency matters with mutual support from the Townships of East Greenwich, Logan, and South Harrison.
Woolwich also provides police services to the Borough of Swedesboro. Kingsway and Woolwich also have a shared services agreement in place that provides a full-time police officer (School Resource Officer) while school is in session.
Security is a priority, as it should be, and school administrators and local law enforcement take this responsibility seriously. Continuous dialogue about security needs, potential threats, and more are just part of the culture and each year Superintendent Dr. Lavender, School Safety Coordinators Ed Dubbs (high school) and Rob Miles (middle school), Police Chiefs Marino (Woolwich), Jenkins (East Greenwich, Smith (Logan Township), and Priore (South Harrison), School Resource Officer Sgt. Jaramillo, and other key administrators and police officers gather to review safety and security protocol.
The group reviews regular security drills planned for the school year, settle on table top exercises, and plan K-9 sweeps.
This recent meeting focused a lot of attention on the new high school schedule known as S.M.A.R.T. “It’s an open campus model that creates new security threats and we want to be sure we have planned for as many potential scenarios that we can think of,” said Lavender, “And, as a result, received some great guidance for law enforcement.”
Last year the district completed a large construction project and local law enforcement were on hand to familiarize themselves with the new additions, new room numbering sequence, and evacuation protocol.
“For the benefit of our kids I only hope every school district in this state has the same relationship we have with our law enforcement,” said Lavender. “We are safer as a result.”