New doors, locks for schools

  • Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Dorchester District 2 schools decided to take action and upgrade security on many of the district’s schools.

In the spring of last year each school received a security review, when officials walked through schools to see what security measures could be improved – from extra lighting in parking lots to fencing around school grounds.

Now the district office is preparing to make security enhancements to the main entrances of six elementary schools, five middle schools and two high schools.

The security plan was discussed at a Board Safety Committee meeting Thursday, Feb. 6, when Director of Facilities Rick Rogers showed renovation plans to committee members.

Rogers said after all the plans have been approved by the Office of School Facilities they will go up for bid.

“We’re trying to get most of these plans done this summer,” he said. “But we’re kind of at the mercy of the review process. I have a feeling they’re going to be coming in at various stages, being reviewed by different people.”

The plans involve adding extra sets of doors to some school entrances, as well as adding places for visitors to check into the main office before being granted access into the rest of the building. For some schools, plans involve revamping the front office area to accommodate a new secure entrance.

Rogers said the project is budgeted at $1.5 million.

Security enhancements will be done to the following schools:

Beach Hill Elementary

Fort Dorchester Elementary

Knightsville Elementary

Oakbrook Elementary

Summerville Elementary

Windsor Hill Elementary

Austin Middle

Dubose Middle

Gregg Middle

Oakbrook Middle

Rollings Middle School of the Arts

Dorchester High

Summerville High

In addition to the security enhancements Rogers said the district wants to make a new standard for schools regarding classroom doors. Right now throughout the district different schools have different lock setups.

The new standard calls for the door to the classroom always being locked – it can only be unlocked from inside the classroom or with a key.

Rogers said establishing the new standard would apply to any future school constructions or renovations.

“The reason we are trying to get to this one standard is so that throughout the district, eventually, all the classrooms function the same way,” he said. “In any crisis or emergency, if the door was the closed the teacher would know it is locked.

“There would be no doubts whatsoever. You would not have to go to the door to make sure the door was locked and put yourself at risk because someone could see you through the window.”

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