As the district has constructed new facilities, or renovated older buildings, we have made it a priority to meet a more stringent standard of safety in regard to how our buildings function. While significant work has been done in this area, there are still several schools that do not meet that higher standard of safety and security.
Approximately half of the proposed funds will be used to create a secured, single-point of entry that requires all visitors to enter the building via the administrative office. New entrances will be constructed at Westside Elementary, South Elementary, Eastwood Elementary, L.E. Berger Elementary, and the Early Childhood Center. Parents and visitors to the school will still enter a vestibule, where they will buzz the office and identify themselves to office personnel. Once office personnel confirm the individual has business at the school, they are buzzed in. What changes is where visitors enter once they are buzzed in; the renovations will physically move the offices at these five buildings so that visitors walk directly into the office versus into the commons or a main hallway. This provides another checkpoint before visitors gain access to our students during the school day. Monitoring who has access to our students, staff, and school building is a key foundational piece to any school safety plan.
The remaining funds will be utilized to first complete security upgrade work begun in the 2015 referendum. Through the 2015 referendum, our middle and high schools received upgrades to their camera systems, as well as having new “blue light systems” installed. The upgraded camera system allows for a higher-quality picture, a better suite of tools for investigating incidents, and the ability for the footage to be viewed offsite, by our law enforcement officers, for example. The blue light system is a visual indicator placed in noisy and heavily trafficked areas of the building where a PA announcement of a lockdown or other crisis may not be heard (main hallways, commons, gyms, CTE classrooms, etc.). Both the camera system upgrades and the installation of the blue light systems is work that needs to be completed at all 13 of our elementary schools. Another potential upgrade under consideration would be the installation of bullet-resistant film for our main entrances and glass-walled rooms with high occupancy loads (commons and libraries, for example). Bullet-resistant films add seconds to the time it takes an intruder to enter a school, and every second counts in a school’s response to an active threat.
The total projected cost of the security upgrades project is $4.1 million.