More Schools Upgrade Campus Security with Window Film

Considering the installation of safety and security window film? Work with local first responders to ensure it’s implemented properly.

Districts Get Creative in Finding Resources
School districts not receiving state funding have to tap their own resources – or come up with a creative alternative – to support security projects. In Houston, the PTO at Barbara Bush Elementary School raised $20,000 to have safety and security window film installed at the school.

Meanwhile, at nearby Cy-Fairbanks ISD, the state’s third largest school district, voters last May approved a bond issue that includes $55 million for security upgrades to 50 school buildings. Roy Sprague, associate superintendent for facilities, says glass protection is part of the six-year project and that he favors safety and security film installation over replacing the glass.

In Geneva, the state funding only covered film costs for school entryways of the nine buildings and first-floor windows of the high school. School officials wanted to have film installed on the first-floor windows at the other eight buildings, so they tapped a special school reserve fund to cover the remaining costs.

The federal government gave $75 million last year to the National Institute of Justice for school security grants, but it appears the funding is tilted more toward research rather than security upgrade hardware. Other federal organizations such as Homeland Security and DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services also say they have available funding for school security projects, but the process is somewhat muddled.

A number of self-help organizations, such as, can give school districts searching for security funding ideas on where to look for support.

Film Can Deter Attacks
Still, if the wish list is long, you can’t afford everything and you want to do something to protect your buildings, safety and security window films are a low-cost and efficient way to deter intruders. Also, the film is relatively easy and fast to install provided the work is completed by an experienced installer.

The film, thicker than regular window films, is adhered to the inside of the glass and then – if installed properly – is firmly secured to the glass with a perimeter wet glaze attachment system. It’s the combination of the film and attachment system that makes the film so effective.

For many school districts, Geneva among them, the film provides an added safety benefit during severe weather. “In the Midwest we’re always concerned about high winds and tornadoes,” says Campbell. “The film holds the glass in place and keeps it from shattering.” Schools in hurricane belts can achieve a similar benefit from safety and security window film installation.

Balance Safety with Security
The Geneva project was notable for another reason. The school worked closely with local police and firefighters to make sure everyone was on the same page with the security upgrades and potential emergency situations. In particular, firefighters were concerned about gaining access to a school building through a filmed window or door in case of a fire or other emergency. 

To make sure they have access, they carried out a test on a filmed two-by-two foot window at one of the schools, gaining access by using a Halligan bar. Although the test worked, Geneva firefighters say more testing is required. Fire officials continually try to find the balance between security and firefighter access.

In government buildings where film has been installed, the solution to this issue has sometimes
been to choose one ground-floor window to have film installed without the wet glaze attachment, making for an easier entry. The designated window is known only to first responders and building officials.

One thing is certain: School building security improvements are just beginning, and safety and security film installation will be a major part of the process as campuses around the country share information and observe one another’s security upgrades.

George J. Tanber is marketing and website content manager for Commercial Window Shield.

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