HIGHLAND, AR (KAIT) – Many schools have stepped back toassess just how safe their campuses are.
Over the summer the Highland School District made someupgrades that administrators hope will make their students feel more secure.
"A general sense of security always promotes success," saidClint Shackelford, the assistant superintendent.
He says the district began planning a few additionalsecurity upgrades at each of its campuses shortly after the tragedy in Newtown,Connecticut.
"A lot of schools started taking real hard looks at securityand what could be done at the district level to increase security around thecampuses," Shackelford said.
When school adjourned for the summer in May, crews startedinstalling the new security features, including constructing new entryways atthe district's three campuses.
"In the entrance of the building," Shackelford said, "we'veinstalled 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 onlyenter the schools now by going through the front offices because the newly installeddoors to the rest of the building will lock every morning at 8:00.
"That has just become a barrier not to be unfriendly butjust to see we've got the right people in the building," he said.
Crews have also installed new door levers that lock from theinside to each classroom at Cherokee Elementary and Highland Middle Schools. Theupgrades to the high school's door knobs should come in the next few weeks.
"What we found was that our antiquated locks, you had tostep into the hallway to lock the doors," Shackelford said, "so now we'll beable to lock the doors from the inside and put our children in a safe spot ifwe had to go in a lock down mode. You would never have to enter the hallway toget in that situation."
The district also had phones placed in each and everyclassroom. The assistant superintendent says they will not only replace theschool's old intercoms but will also act as a panic response system.
"I think our job is to protect our kids," Shackelford said, "andI would probably feel guilty if we didn't try to make our students safe."
The district has made these three upgrades to each of itscampuses: Highland High School, Cherokee Elementary School and Highland MiddleSchool.
Shackelford said the district saved money by using its ownmaintenance staff to do about 90 percent of the work.