GRANBY/FRASER — East Grand schools are installing added security systems this week, which will require visitors to “buzz-in” during school hours.
According to superintendent Jody Mimmack, the school district decided to install the system after a safety audit that followed the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in New Town, Conn.
“Bad things happen, as we’ve seen,” Mimmack said. “Safety is a priority for us, for sure.”
School doors will be unlocked during the regular flow as students arrive at school, but they’ll be locked and secured a few minutes after the morning bells rings. Visitors will then have to enter by ringing a well-marked buzzer. It will turn on a camera and audio system in a console at the main office work station. School administrators will be able to screen the visitors and ask for identification before providing access.
“It’s an additional barrier to make sure staff are making contact with people right away when they come to the school,” Mimmack said.
A security contractor was supposed to start installing the systems last week, but recent snowfall caused delays. Instead, work on the system began on Thursday, Feb. 13, and is expected to take a couple of days to complete.
The buzz-in systems are being installed at Granby Elementary, Fraser Elementary, East Grand Middle School and Middle Park High School. A system isn’t being installed at Indian Peaks Charter School because according to Mimmack, the school already locks doors during school hours and has a “doorbell” system that provides similar security.
The total costs for the systems is $5,200 per school. Mimmack said the school district was able to apply to the towns of Winter Park and Granby to get “money in lieu of land” funding, so she didn’t have to use money from the general fund for the added security. The school district will have to pay for the annual expense of running and maintaining the system, however, which Mimmack said will cost around $360 per school each year.
The school safety audit prompting the buzz-in system was the result of a walk-through with school officials, custodians, fire chiefs and police. It prepared a list of recommendations to increase school safety. The buzz-in system was the audit’s primary recommendation. Mimmack said the district is looking at other audit suggestions, like installing alarms for propped-open doors, but others are cost-prohibitive, like installing exterior video cameras.
“They all agreed we have really good systems in place, so there’s not a huge panic to do any of the additional things,” Mimmack said.
The schools have extensive safety polices, which the district reviews regularly. Mimmack said every staff member is trained in safety procedures and expectations, and students undergo safety drills at each school every month. The school district has been holding parent meetings over the last few months to hear community concerns, but Mimmack said safety has not come up as an issue.
“Kids are prepared and helpful, teachers are prepared, so there are not a ton of comments at parent meetings around that,” she said. “I do believe parents think our schools are safe.”
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.