U.S. Schools, Parents, Politicians Continue Quest for Security Upgrades

Published: January 13, 2013

In response to the Newtown, Conn., mass school shooting, American K-12 campuses are moving to improve their security, be it in the form of additional armed patrols, upgraded security equipment or more training or all three. Here’s what’s happening across the nation.

Florida: The state of Florida is considering adding panic buttons to classrooms, installing sturdier windows and making sure all doors lock from the inside. One expert says the cost of these and other improvements will be more than $100 million.

Avon Grove Schools (Pa.): Avon Grove Schools will conduct a vulnerability audit in February. The superintendent expressed concerns about portable classrooms and fencing. The district is also considering a visitor management system.

Tampa: The superintendent of schools in Hillsborough County is proposing putting armed guards (130 in all) in every elementary school, which is estimated to $6.1 million next year. The source of the funding may be the district’s contingency fund.

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Southampton: Southampton School District buildings now have cameras at the entrance and the doors will be locked until visitors speak to security staff via an intercom. The upgrades were planned before the Sandy Hook tragedy in December.

Tennessee: On Monday, the Williamson County Commission will decide on funding that could put armed officers in schools. The district will also have an expert review their safety plans. Right now, resource officers have been placed in all schools. Nearby Davidson County officials are considering standardizing main entryways, adding locks that can be locked from inside  classroom doors, and adding digital security systems to every school. In Nashville, the mayor is encouraging the shifting of money from other projects to security.

Southlake, Texas:  Carroll Independent School District has put together a task force to improve school security. It will address everything from drug abuse to mental health issues to adding eight resource officers, which could cost $1 million. There has been no decision on how the upgrades will be funded. 

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Political leaders have proposed a one-year tax levy so they can install bullet-proof glass, metal detectors and video surveillance cameras in their schools. Its middle and high schools already have armed officers but is buying more weapons.

Warrenton, Ore.: The district has patched holes in its fences and is locking more doors.

Groton, Conn.: School officials are considering the installation of cameras that can be remotely viewed by police, panic buttons, access control and security patrols. The upgrades will cost approximately $300,000, which is left over from last year’s budget.

Wisconsin: Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine proposed the restoration of $86 million for school safety improvements that was cut in 2009, and Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon is considering supporting the proposal. The school safety exemption would have allowed districts to raise $100 per student for things like security officers, door lock systems or anti-bullying programs. For Madison, that would have raised about $2.5 million.

Hudson Falls, N.Y.: The Hudson Falls Central School District is implementing security upgrades to their entire school system this week, including a camera, intercom, and buzzer system at the main entrance of each of its five school buildings. They cost $1,100 each.

New Hampshire: At least three school districts are considering adding school resource officers, while others are looking to add more locks and other safety measures.

Montgomery County, Md.: On Thursday, several parents asked for increased on-campus security and more money to train teachers. Specifically, they want to restore funding for the school resource officer positions. Earlier this week the board of education passed a resolution to improve school access control. Employee groups are urging the hiring of more counselors and school psychologists.

Brookfield, Conn.: Brookfield municipal leaders have fast-tracked approval of money to increase security in their school buildings. On Jan. 7, school administrators asked the Board of Selectmen to immediately cover much of the $110,000 cost of the first phase of a three-part plan for security upgrades in the district’s schools. The improvements will include access control, visitor management and special glass in main entrances. Future improvements include fences around the playgrounds, additional security cameras, new blinds and upgraded radios. Total cost will be $347,500. 

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