Security upgrades planned at Tallmadge elementary schools

by Holly Schoenstein | Reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- School officials also are considering enhancing the security at Dunbar Primary and Munroe Elementary schools by adding vestibules at the main entrances.

The buildings have locked doors so staff must view visitors via a security camera and buzz them in. A vestibule would add a second set of locked doors.

Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said the idea was a result of the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last year.

"In light of what happened with the tragedy at the end of 2012 at Sandy Hook, it makes you take a step back and look at everything you're doing," he said.

Steve Wood, director of business for the district, said school officials had considered adding the vestibules to the buildings in the past but didn't want to spend the money if the district was going to build a new elementary school. Voters struck down the levy last fall that would've generated money for the new school.

Estimated costs for the vestibules is unknown at this time. An architect is working on the plans, which aren't expected to be completed before the end of March or early April, according to Wood.

If the district decides to move forward, the work would start this summer and be completed before the 2013-14 school year begins. The costs of the work would come from the district's permanent improvement fund.

Tallmadge High School, which opened in 2008, already has a secure vestibule, and in the summer of 2011, the district paid about $50,000 to add one to the middle school, which was built in 1960, Wood said.

Visitors at both the middle and high schools only can enter the first set of doors and go directly into the office.

"So we'd like to replicate that the best we can with those two old structures. So you hit the buzzer, and you're buzzed into a secure vestibule before you can get into the building," Ferguson said.

Wood said both projects are "substantial" in terms of the extent of the renovations because of the layouts of the buildings and their ages; Dunbar was built in 1949, Munroe in 1962. He said the offices are toward the middle or back of each building so to move them toward the front, some walls would have to be torn down, new doorways built and windows replaced.

Wood said adding vestibules to the buildings in a manner that includes having the offices at the front provides a more welcoming environment for visitors.

Other maintenance projects for each building in the district, such as new carpeting and painting, will be considered in February or March.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

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