Highland upgrades security at school campuses - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Highland upgrades security at school campuses

HIGHLAND, AR (KAIT) – Many schools have stepped back to assess just how safe their campuses are.

Over the summer the Highland School District made some upgrades that administrators hope will make their students feel more secure.

"A general sense of security always promotes success," said Clint Shackelford, the assistant superintendent.

He says the district began planning a few additional security upgrades at each of its campuses shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

"A lot of schools started taking real hard looks at security and what could be done at the district level to increase security around the campuses," Shackelford said.

When school adjourned for the summer in May, crews started installing the new security features, including constructing new entryways at the district's three campuses.

"In the entrance of the building," Shackelford said, "we've installed foyer door systems that funnel you into the office."

Shackelford says this was important because, in the past, anyone could walk off the street and right into the school. Visitors can only enter the schools now by going through the front offices because the newly installed doors to the rest of the building will lock every morning at 8:00.

"That has just become a barrier not to be unfriendly but just to see we've got the right people in the building," he said.

Crews have also installed new door levers that lock from the inside to each classroom at Cherokee Elementary and Highland Middle Schools. The upgrades to the high school's door knobs should come in the next few weeks.

"What we found was that our antiquated locks, you had to step into the hallway to lock the doors," Shackelford said, "so now we'll be able to lock the doors from the inside and put our children in a safe spot if we had to go in a lock down mode. You would never have to enter the hallway to get in that situation."

The district also had phones placed in each and every classroom. The assistant superintendent says they will not only replace the school's old intercoms but will also act as a panic response system.

"I think our job is to protect our kids," Shackelford said, "and I would probably feel guilty if we didn't try to make our students safe."

The district has made these three upgrades to each of its campuses: Highland High School, Cherokee Elementary School and Highland Middle School.

Shackelford said the district saved money by using its own maintenance staff to do about 90 percent of the work.

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