INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 13, 2013, 10:06 AM

Minnesota schools see range of security upgrades

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota school districts have implemented a variety of new security measures at their buildings in the year since the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Connecticut, and some are going to voters to help foot the bill.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota school districts have implemented a variety of new security measures at their buildings in the year since the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Connecticut, and some are going to voters to help foot the bill.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported Friday that upgrades include everything from new alarms, door locks and cameras in some schools, to discussions about adding additional police officers and security guards at some sites. Measures vary from district to district depending on the availability of resources.

At schools in Bloomington, locked vestibules will funnel visitors into the main office where they must present an ID to be cross-checked with a national law enforcement database. The district is paying for more than $7 million in security upgrades with a 10-year, $60 million levy that voters approved this fall.

A handful of other Minnesota school districts put similar levies on the ballot to pay for security upgrades. Scott Croonquist, the head of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, said such funding should be provided by the state.

"We really shouldn't have to rely on operating referendum or a technology or a capital projects referendum to do that," he said.

But Bloomington parent Michelle Bedor said it's worth it.

"I have been through lockdowns in a school that I work in and have been through threats," Bedor said. "So I know what it feels like to be in those scary situations. I'm all for whatever we can do to keep kids safe."

In addition to the new visitor policy, one Bloomington elementary school is installing color-coded strobe lights throughout the building to alert students and staffs to emergencies. Main offices will be equipped with a panic button.

"When situations arise the staff person can press that button and that activates all the fire doors," said Rick Kaufman, who directs the district's emergency management plans. "All the fire doors closed creates a significant barrier to anyone now getting into the school."

Kaufman, who was in charge of communications at Columbine High School in 1999 when two students killed 13 people and then themselves, admitted that the measures can give school "the feeling of a fortress-like facility."

"Schools are wrestling with balancing the welcoming environment with these kind of safety measures that even five years ago people would not have been embracing," he said.

Tags: