Ocean City High School By Donald WittkowskiVisitors to Ocean City’s public schools simply can’t walk through the doors and have unfettered access to the buildings.Before they are allowed in, they must ring a doorbell at the front entrance and then pass through a contained area, where they are met by school staff.Jacqueline A. McAlister, president of the Cape May County School Boards Association, said this is just one example of how Ocean City’s schools have heightened security in the wake of mass shootings and other acts of violence at schools nationwide.McAlister believes schools throughout Cape May County should join forces to explore other ways to improve student safety. She announced that the Cape May County School Boards Association will convene a security summit at Ocean City High School on Jan. 31 to focus on the issue.“Our premier concern, our primary concern, is the safety of our children above everything else,” McAlister said.McAlister works full time as director of adult education at the Cape May County Technical School. On Wednesday night, she was named vice president of the Ocean City Board of Education, giving her another leadership role in the public schools system.McAlister made it clear at the Board of Education meeting that student safety will be one of her top priorities. She repeated that theme during an interview Thursday while discussing plans for the security summit.“It’s so prescient and important,” she said of school security.McAlister plans to invite Board of Education members from school districts across the county to the summit, which will be held at Ocean City High School from 6 to 9 p.m. Superintendents and other top-level school officials from local towns, the county and the state are also expected to attend. One of the highlights will be a panel discussion featuring security experts and school officials.“I hope we can share ideas about things we’ve implemented,” McAlister said of security innovations in place at schools throughout the county.Rich McHale, head of security for the Cape May County Technical School, has been invited to speak. McHale, a retired Middle Township police officer, formerly worked for a Department of Defense contractor that advised security forces and the military in war-torn Afghanistan, McAlister said.“He really is an expert in world security,” she said.McAlister said she is not yet sure whether the public will be able to attend the summit, although it will be open to representatives of the Parent Teacher Association. Details still must be discussed with the New Jersey School Boards Association. At the very least, the public will be represented by their local school board and PTA members, McAlister said.McAlister stressed that school shootings nationwide underscore the absolute importance of having stepped-up security. She noted that Ocean City has not had any major security scares, but added, “There’s always a question of what we can do better.”Even relatively simple and commonsense security measures, such as the procedure for admitting visitors to Ocean City’s schools, have improved student safety, she explained.“There’s always a layer of defense between students and visitors,” she said.