Violence in schools has school districts spending lots of money to make buildings safer and give everyone a better sense of security.
Since the Sandy Hook school shooting where 26 children and educators were killed by a gunman, school administrations have focused on security. Naugatuck is getting ready to invest nearly $1.5 million in security upgrades.
Eyewitness News got an exclusive tour with police, architects, engineers and school officials at one of the schools set to get the security enhancements.
"When students, teachers are in school we want them to be able to focus on learning and teaching,” Naugatuck School Superintendent Sharon Locke said.
Cross Street School Principal Melissa Cooney pointed out problems she's been living with for years in her building. The school building in Naugatuck is secure, according to Cooney, but the aging space needs some love.
“We have issues with power often in this area of town and so cameras go down,” Cooney said during the tour.
Naugatuck just secured $1.4 million to overhaul the security at six schools. Plans will include adding shatterproof glass, key card entry points and more cameras with backup power.
“It's making sure our schools are secure from outside to the inside and that we are screening all adults and children who enter the building,” Locke said.
Locke spent $600,000 last year on security upgrades, which was enough to do three schools including Andrew Avenue Elementary School.
At Andrew Avenue Elementary School, visitors have to look into a camera before being buzzed into the building. Cameras are on anyone who is approaching and entering the building. The principal can even monitor from his office.
“So a principal can look up and see the entire perimeter of the school at one quick glance,” Locke said.
On Thursday's tour of Cross Street School, the potential issues were identified and documented. Cooney's primary concern is exterior doors and locks.
People with children in any school district said these costs needs to be funded because so much is at stake.
“You have to keep track of everyone who comes in,” Ashley Loomis, of Beacon Falls, said. “I'm paranoid something is going to happen to my little brother all of the time."
Loomis said she wants gates around the school.
"I feel like there should be gates - liked a gated community,” Loomis said. “I feel like that's how it should be for little kids. It's scary."
The school district said they wanted to do the tours so everyone has input.
“Ultimately the buck stops here with the principal. Security is the utmost and my first priority - safety and security of the students,” Cooney said.
Naugatuck's high school is not part of this grant money because it is in the middle of a complete rebuild and the project includes all of the security upgrades.
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