RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Blind Brook schools are looking to make a number of changes to increase school security, including adding security vestibules at both schools, increasing lighting and a possible construction project at the middle/high school.
Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, the district hired Altaris Consulting Group to perform a full-scale security audit of the schools and review all safety plans in place.
Since that time, the schools have implemented a number of their recommendations, according to Jonathan Ross, assistant superintendent of finance and facilities. These changes have included new locks on buildings and classrooms that can be locked from the inside and outside, panic alarms, high resolution security cameras, visitor management software and increased drills with staff members.
The district has since hired CSArch Architecture to handle larger projects to increase security. The first of these projects would be security vestibules at the entrance of both schools. Also known as "man traps" these would provide an additional screening area to screen visitors and prevent any unwanted persons from entering the schools.
Any visitor to the school would be buzzed into the building. They would then encounter a second set of locked doors. Before being allowed entry, they would have to provide a photo I.D. to a security guard, who would be enclosed in a separate security office. Once that person's credentials are cleared, they would be allowed into the building. The cost of this project would be around $117,000 at the elementary school and $61,000 at the middle/high school.
Another key component that CSArch has recommended is increased lighting at the school. Poles would be set up in the parking lots and near the entrances to the campus with either LED or HID lighting to provide better illumination to people after dark. According to George Cronk of Chazen Engineering, the project manager in charge of lighting enhancements, any additional lights would be designed specifically for the campus they are installed on, with little impact on the neighboring properties. The lights could be set on a timer or motion sensor. This could save money for when they are not being used, Cronk said, and a motion sensor could alert police if somebody drives on campus after hours.
A capital project the district will have to consider involves the two classrooms in the portables at the middle/high school. There are two options to bring these classrooms back into the building and increase security. One would involve constructing additional classrooms on top of them, and the other would be transporting them to existing storage rooms in the main building. Constructing a second floor would cost around $982,000 and relocating the classrooms would cost around $680,000. The Board of Education will discuss the options at upcoming meetings.
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