In 2022, SAIS launched its first school security survey, asking heads of member schools to share general safety and security information about their schools.

This year, 176 SAIS member schools participated in the survey. A variety of school types and sizes submitted responses. A snapshot of the general demographics from the responding schools includes:

  • 48% have between 100 and 500 students
  • 77% have all buildings on one campus
  • 44% of campuses cover more than 30 acres
  • 49% describe their geographic location as a suburb

Best practices in school security discourages the sharing of plans and protocols for individual schools. As such, the information in the report is general in nature and is designed to serve as a benchmark guide for schools as they review their own policies and procedures. 

Controlled Access and Video Surveillance

Many schools reported some type of controlled access with 66% utilizing key cards to access doors and 61% using buzzers for door access. Partial campus fencing was up 12% over the 2022 survey. Only 3% of responding schools had none of the included methods of controlled access.

Use of video cameras appears to have increased for both exterior and interior surveillance with a rise in the continuous monitoring of video footage. Most schools report that these controlled access and video surveillance measures are recent additions to their campus.

Security Staff

In 2022, more than 40% of responding schools did not have security staff. This number fell to 26% on the 2023 survey. More than half of schools report having at least one full-time employee dedicated to security with 13% employing more than three full-time security staff. The number of these employees who are also sworn law enforcement doubled to 35% while an additional 34% are described as retired law enforcement or military. Nearly a quarter of schools use an outside agency to provide campus security staff.

Detainment measures used by security staff is up in several areas. Most (75%) conduct a full campus patrol on foot, and the number of those stationed at a fixed location, campus or building entrance is lower than in 2022. Only 6% of schools reported non-security staff, including administrators, faculty, or staff, carry a firearm. Many do use both two-way radios and cell phones for safety communication.


Many schools partner with local law enforcement to assist or consult in the planning of training or drills with 40% of schools relying on local law enforcement to conduct on campus training with their faculty. The majority of schools (88%) conduct active shooter training with their staff.

Security Audits

Most schools have conducted a campus security audit with 65% of schools using an external consultant or law enforcement agency to conduct the audit. About 30% of these schools repeat the audit every one to two years. Security audits can vary greatly in their scope. Schools reported the following areas as part of their audit:

  • Assessment of:
    • Entry points
    • Exterior and interior of buildings
    • IT resources
    • Landscaping
    • Video surveillance/camera angles
    • Vulnerability points
  • Cybersecurity evaluation
  • Evaluation of drills
  • Penetration testing
  • Review of policies and procedures
  • Risk assessment

Deliverables from the audit included written documents, board presentations, personnel evaluations, safety manuals, and emergency plans.


More than half of schools responding do not currently conduct any formal cybersecurity training with even more (66%) lacking a written response or protocol for a cybersecurity incident. Many schools (73%) do have a cybersecurity insurance policy in effect.


Finally, we asked heads to identify the single most impactful security change or addition from the past two years. Personnel, including armed guards, was cited by 38% of schools. Equipment such as cameras and ballistic film was indicated by 21% of schools, while 18% mentioned facility upgrades that included door locks, fencing, and gates. Additional areas mentioned included training, planning, community partnerships, and implementation of software apps and background checks.

Additional Resources