Coming: secure doors for Cumberland schools

Coming: secure doors for Cumberland schools

CUMBERLAND - The School Department won an OK from the Town Council this month to begin what Supt. Phil Thornton terms a $600,000 "soup to nuts overhaul" of school doors and locks.

The security effort was first talked about last February, shortly after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school tragedy, and is moving forward even as news comes about a teacher's death in a shooting in Sparks, Nevada.

Thornton says he initially held off action while waiting for the Rhode Island Department of Education to issue security guidelines for all schools, but finally decided to move forward with the input of local police and fire officials as well as a local safety committee.

He says that while it's unclear whether secure doors and locks would have made a difference in Nevada, his goal is to "minimize intruder threats" and allow students "to shelter in place."

CNN is noting that since 26 were killed in Newtown, there have been school shootings in Austin, Texas, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga.

In Cumberland, doors in need of replacing - some 286 to begin with - were identified during a walk through every school, said Thornton.

Every school has some issues, he said, but many are in the Ashton and Community elementary schools where older construction saw the routine use of doors with large square windows on top.

Replacement doors will be metal with a narrow strip of glass running vertically only about 3 inches wide. And every lock that can't be activated by teachers from within the classroom will be changed out.

Interior door replacements will likely begin within the next two months, with work done in the evenings and weekends.

During phase 2 of the project, some schools, such as McCourt Middle, will see vestibules reworked to provide more secure entrances.

Additionally, exterior school doors are getting a new keyless system that allows access to designated teachers and staff. The system eliminates the problem of multiple master keys that have been copied and distributed over the years, says Thornton. The system also records who's coming in and going out.

Moreover, cameras have been installed in all the schools and are monitored in the front office, Thornton said.

To fund the improvements, Town Hall will arrange what's called a "master lease" to be paid off over five years using the housing aid that's reimbursed to towns based on capital spending by school systems. In Cumberland's case, a 40 percent reimbursement based on more than $300,000 in spending by the schools each year will yield the needed $120,000 per year for the lease. The School Department will pick up the $45,000 in interest payments on the lease.

Comments

Another example of the politically correct lip service that the taxpayer is steadily fed. Given all of the stories about school attacks and that "our students are SO precious", one would think that this issue HAD ALREADY BEEN ADDRESSED! Wait...let me guess...they're going to need more money to keep our kids safe. Apparently there has been no money appropriated in the $57,572,848 FY14 budget for these UPGRADES. In fact, MOST of this money will go to salaries and pensions for the staff. I'm fine with people making money in America, but, what I don't like is people using our kids education AND SAFETY as a bargaining chip. Just say what you're here for...we all know already.

Stuck, check the schools budget. This was in there.

I did take a quick look, but must have not scrolled down far enough past all the salaries and pensions. My point is that this issue is purportedly AN EMERGENCY! If we are REALLY concerned about our kids' safety, and we are REALLY serious about INSURING a safe school, then what's the holdup? Why are they not working on this TODAY? How many more school attacks do we need to witness before they get started? That's all...

"Thornton says he initially held off action while waiting for the Rhode Island Department of Education to issue security guidelines for all schools, but finally decided to move forward with the input of local police and fire officials as well as a local safety committee."

It's not rocket science....LOCK THE DOORS!

Great advice - if the doors had locks.