At tonight’s meeting of the Upper Perkiomen School Board, officials plan to vote on security upgrades to all of the district’s buildings. Just knowing that officials are looking to upgrade the safety of our schools is a welcome sign. Seeing it in writing as part of the scheduled meeting is even better. The total estimated cost for the improvements is more than $250,000; however, not all of that amount may be requested at the meeting.
The safety of our children is nothing to take lightly and looking over the line items, there seems to be some good, common-sense suggestions. And yes, even reasonable costs.
At the district’s two elementary schools, administrators propose the addition of four wireless, closed circuit televisions (we’re assuming cameras) to allow staff to better view visitors wishing to gain access to the building. At $1,200 it is an inexpensive enhancement.
The installation of 8-inch bollards at the main entrance of the district’s buildings, not protected by a set of concrete steps, will prevent a determined attacker from ramming a vehicle into the front doors. Twelve bollards at a cost of $7,500 are worth it.
One of the big-ticket items is two “man-trap” type entrances; one for the high school and one for the middle school. Designed to not only help keep attackers out of the building but trap them as well, the $20,000 price tag is a small price to pay for the added security.
The most expensive proposal is the installation of card entry points where an authorized person can simply “swipe” an identification card to gain access to the building. The anticipated cost is $98,300 for the readers to be installed in all of the schools. You may think steel keys and a written log of their holders is cheaper but, if a card-key is lost, its access authority can be removed a lot faster than changing the locks, and no new keys will need to be purchased. Plus, the system can be expanded in the future.
There are other security enhancements proposed as well and we encourage you to attend tonight’s school board meeting or seek out district officials to learn more about them.
Many taxpayers will view the addition of the security upgrade as welcome. But the sight of them may strike fear in some students. It will be important for parents, educators and administrators to allay those fears. Talking about the enhancements must occur at the schools and on the homefront. Before you can talk about them, you need to learn about them.
It wasn’t too long ago that local school doors were never locked when school was in session. People who had no business at the school didn’t show up during school hours. When someone had business there, they walked in the door and right to the office. Bringing a weapon of any sort to school, creating an incident there, or even roaming the halls was unthought-of.
Times change and people change – sometimes for the worse.
The fact that we even need security at our schools is a sad commentary. But the price to help keep our students safe is well worth it.