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EACS hears proposals to boost safety at schools

March 21, 2018 GMT

East Allen County Schools’ safety manager wants to buy teachers and students time to prepare against a violent intruder.

Jeff Studebaker showed the school board Tuesday a product that can do just that: an intruder-resistant window film from 3M. A video demonstrating the product showed its effectiveness: it delayed a gunman by almost two minutes.

He recommended the district treat all entrance door window areas with the film, which costs about $12 per square foot. That alone won’t protect the schools, he said, but would give students and staffers time to take shelter and implement an emergency plan.

That and other safety recommendations were included in Studebaker’s annual school safety report, which was presented on the heels of school safety meetings for parents. Those forums were prompted by the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

Other suggestions included adding key card access capabilities to at least one door in all buildings; installing locks that can be locked from inside classrooms; and expediting the process of converting camera systems to internet protocol technology.

Board member Chris Baker supported Studebaker’s request to install the window film, but noted that doesn’t address internal threats, such as armed students.

He suggested putting the window film on interior doors as well and asked about replacing existing doors with bulletproof doors.

“Sure, it’s an option,” Studebaker said.

Tim Hines, the board vice president, described another potentially useful product : a bulletproof dry-erase whiteboard on wheels.

“I was afraid to look at the price, though,” he said.

Turf fields OK’d

In other business, the board approved a $1,679,305 contract with The Motz Group for synthetic turf fields at Heritage and Woodlan. The board is expected to consider a contract for turf fields at Leo and New Haven later.

The board also approved an $85,000 contingency allowance for unforeseen expenses.

The turf project is budgeted for 87.5 million building program that proceeded without a public referendum.

Improvements address issues districtwide, including secure entrances, overcrowding and drop-off and pickup areas.

Members Paulette Nellems and Todd Buckmaster voted no on both the contract and the related contingency.

“This money could be better served to educate our kids,” Nellems said.

Kirby Stahly, chief financial officer, said that isn’t possible because of the way the project is being funded.

asloboda@jg.net