'You're buying time, safety and security': Western School Board approves security measures

Posted: Jan. 18, 2013 9:24 am Updated: Feb. 8, 2013 10:15 am

By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSARHerald-Whig Staff Writer

New doors at Barry, Kinderhook buildings, along with cameras in vestibule at Barry, to cost $211,598

BARRY, Ill. -- The Western School Board took action Wednesday night to boost security at its buildings and provide financial breathing room for the district.

Board members approved plans to spend $211,598 on security measures, including new doors at the buildings in Barry and Kinderhook, along with camera-monitored vestibule areas at Barry.

Plans call for rekeying district buildings in Barry and Kinderhook, replacing the interior doors leading into the high school at Barry, replacing some exterior doors at both buildings and classroom doors at Kinderhook and adding camera-monitored vestibule areas at the three Barry entrances.

The board debated the health/life safety projects for several months, with project costs starting around $550,000. Cost concerns trimmed the project to $330,000, then back again to the final amount as the board opted to replace only classroom doors, and not closet doors within classrooms, at Kinderhook and skipped a planned keyless entry system.

"The majority of us felt like after the recent incident (the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.) that it's just something we had to do," Board President Chris Borrowman said. "Six weeks ago, I wasn't in favor, but I changed my stance completely."

Board member Tera Hart still questioned the cost.

"We've been discussing and discussing about how we need to look at money and cut back," Hart said. "It's a lot of money to spend."

The district has life safety funds available to cover the projects, and "you can't use the money for anything else," board member Penny Moyer said. "It's part of the life safety plan. That's what the money is for."

The new vestibule areas should help with energy conservation at Barry, but most important with the project could be boosting safety in the school.

Secure classroom doors and the vestibules requiring visitors to be buzzed into the building may not keep someone out, but "you're buying time, safety and security," board member Kris Koeller said. "You're buying seconds. You're trying to buy a minute."

The upgraded security plans were developed with help from the Illinois State Police.

The work, to be done by Trotter Construction and Leander Construction, should begin this spring.

Board members also approved a resolution to sell $860,000 in working cash bonds to help with cash flow as revenue continues to shrink.

With projections calling for continuing declines in state aid, "that could cover us the next three to four years," Borrowman said. "That's why we're looking at a three-year payback on those in case we would need to reissue again if the state continues to cut."

Borrowman said the district will keep a close eye on the budget and could look at staffing moves to save money.

"There may be some cuts," he said, "but it won't be anything like we did last spring."

The board in March cut 11 full-time and three part-time teachers as part of a deficit-reduction plan to improve the district's finances.