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Morristown school considers security upgrades

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MORRISTOWN — In the wake of the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Morristown Central School is considering security upgrades to better protect staff and students.

Setting aside $100,000 in the proposed 2013-14 budget, Superintendent David J. Glover said the administration is making the upgrades a priority.

“We want people to come in, but we want to know they are here,” Mr. Glover said.

The bulk of the project will focus on fitting the main entrance of the building with an “air-lock” and buzzer system preventing visitors from walking directly into the school.

“That’s really priority one right now because we don’t have anyone manning the front door,” Mr. Glover said. Currently, visitors are asked to sign in upon entering the building.

School officials are looking to move quickly, and the Board of Education has previously expressed its support for upgrades at the main entrance.

At the January school board meeting, President Cyril Aldrich Jr. said the school should make the upgrade “sooner rather than later.”

Mr. Glover said he hopes to move the project forward before students return in the fall.

“I would hope we would be able to put it in in July and August,” Mr. Glover said. “It depends on how involved it is.”

Front-door security is the largest of several upgrades the school envisions.

“We’ve also had initial conversations to have fire doors to zone off parts of the building,” Mr. Glover said.

Fire doors could, in the event of a shooter gaining access to the building, be used to close off parts of the school and confine the shooter’s movements.

Mr. Glover said that project is farther down the road, but smaller upgrades are ready to move ahead. He said several classroom doors will be replaced by doors with smaller windows to better protect students.

“Some of our older doors are full pane, so there’s nowhere to hide,” Mr. Glover said.

That project would cost an estimated $10,000 and the school hopes to have it off the ground before the end of the school year.

Morristown is also considering adding panic buttons to several school offices that would directly connect the building to law enforcement agencies.

“The building is alarmed. The doors are locked throughout the day. Our campus is pretty much covered with video,” Mr. Glover said. “Knowing what happened in Connecticut, are we in the best shape we could possibly be? That school did everything right. And the bad guy still got in.”

Mr. Glover said the school just wants to be as prepared as possible for the unthinkable.

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