Entry way work under way as Western School District looks to boost security

Posted: Mar. 21, 2013 9:32 am Updated: Apr. 11, 2013 10:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

BARRY, Ill. -- New secure entry ways could be in place by Monday at Western school district facilities.

Visitors to the schools in Barry and Kinderhook will be buzzed in at locked exterior doors and again at locked interior doors. The entry ways are part of a larger project adding more security measures to the district which should be finished over the summer.

Plans call for rekeying both buildings, adding the new entry ways, replacing some exterior doors at both buildings and classroom doors at Kinderhook and adding security cameras. The Western School Board Wednesday night modified the project to add locked exterior doors at the entry ways along with additional security cameras, including one at the northeast or gym entrance at Barry.

"If you're going to spend the money, you want to do it right," board member Kris Koeller said.

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 $223,355 as the board opted to replace only classroom doors at Kinderhook and skipped a planned keyless entry system. The roughly $12,000 in project changes approved Wednesday will be covered with contingency funds included in the total project cost.

The school shooting in Newtown, Conn., spurred the discussions, which already had been under way, and a Jan. 31 incident at Western High School emphasized the need for additional security.

David M. Anthony of Barry was charged with felony unlawful restraint and misdemeanor aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after storming into the school office, angry about something to do with his child, a student in the district, and detaining and threatening teacher Laura West.

Since the incident, entrance doors at all facilities have been locked and recess has been inside with administration using personnel flexibly to provide access to the building for visitors and supervision of students walking to and from the ag building. "When the vestibules are completed, we can remove the personnel from the door and allow the students to participate in outdoor recess," Superintendent Carol Frericks said.

Also Wednesday, board members looked at the possibility of replacing all lighting fixtures and bulbs in the Barry facility to lower energy costs. The board had one bid, totaling $18,126, for the work and covered the required paperwork for an Ameren incentive grant that would cover $7,150 of the project cost. Board member Korhan Raif said he wanted to see at least one more bid for the project before the board makes a decision.