School security updates hit snagPublished 11:03am Thursday, May 30, 2013
The national response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has increased the demand for school security doors, and that has become a problem for the Fergus Falls School District.
The school board approved updates to entrances at McKinley and Adams Schools Tuesday morning. While plans originally called for updates to all exterior doors, high bids forced the district to approve the first phase of the project, expected to start this summer and be completed by fall.
The initial half will include new entrances. McKinley’s office will relocate to the south side to better monitor security. Crews will turn an old, unused room at Adams into an entrance and office area.
“The idea is to control the flow of who is going into and out of the building,” Superintendent Jerry Ness said.
Ness said Chief of Public Safety Kile Bergren offered suggestions. The plans form multiple layers of protection to slow possible intruders as they make their way into the building.
According to Business Manager Mark Masten, the district estimated the projects would cost around $100,000.
The bid at McKinley, however, came in at $200,000. At Adams, the district estimated the project would be $75,000, but the bid came in at $163,000.
Masten said the increased demand for security updates that followed the Newtown shootings and other school threats across the country are most likely responsible for higher costs.
While the tragic shooting influenced the board’s decision to start the project, Ness said the district has been concerned about the problem for some time.
“Actually, we’ve thought about it for a while now,” Ness said. “With remodeling we’ve had Adams and McKinley on the radar.”
The district will install higher rated doors at entrances that are more inviting than larger, industrial security doors. The plan will use similar designs to those at Cleveland and Kennedy.
“You want an inviting building. This is still an elementary school,” Ness said. “But there’s a cost point where you just can’t afford to do more.”
Ness said the district is working with architects to find a balance between design and cost.
The district will continue to research the best fix for the rest of the exterior doors as well.
The board should make a final decision for the rest of the project at their June 10 meeting.
“We’ll try to make it as welcoming and as safe as we can within the budget,” Ness said. “In the end, safety is going to rule the day.”