Colorado school districts plan on securing entrances

7:30 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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  • At most schools around Colorado, the front door is unlocked and sometimes unmonitored. After the tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut, that is beginning to change.

    "I think security is a huge piece of any principal's job," said Michele Saller, principal at Brantner Elementary in Thornton.

    Brantner is in the Brighton School District which announced plans to place a computerized visitor screening system at every building.

    "It is a deterrent for somebody who thinks that possibly I can just run in and take over," Saller said. "It is another line of defense."

    Across the Metro in Jefferson County, every elementary school and middle school will soon have a secured door system installed which will require a buzzed entry.

    "We really believe in a layered security approach," said John McDonald, executive director of security and emergency management for the Jefferson County School District.

    The plan was already part of the $39 million mill levy override passed in November for operating funds. But, McDonald says the events in Newtown, Connecticut changed the schedule.

    "It did put it at the top of the list," McDonald said. "It was already near the top of the list and certainly right now, school safety is a huge topic and concern for our community and our parents."

    Parents like John-Michael Keyes. Keyes' daughter Emily was killed when an intruder took over a classroom at Platte Canyon High School near Bailey in 2006.

    "If you really think about it, what we're really doing is setting up a time barrier," Keyes said.

    Keyes started the I Love U Guys Foundation named after a text Emily sent shortly before she died. Part of the foundation's mission is to talk with schools and law enforcement about issues of school security.

    "When you're looking at school safety, it isn't simply one thing or another, but it's a broad matrix that schools and districts can be doing that provide greater security for our kids," said Keyes.
    Jeffco plans to have secured doors installed in 107 schools within the next 15 months at a cost of around $750,000.

    "This is a process, not a switch," McDonald said. "It's a culture change to make sure that we have a welcoming environment, but we're also secure at the same time."

    The Brighton school district plans to have its security improvements in place by the end of March.

    "Knowing the safety and security needs of schools, all schools will have that in the future," Saller said.

    (KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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