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January 24. 2013 2:08PM

Salem School Board approves $100k in security upgrades

SALEM -- Funds from the district's Capital Improvement Plan balance will be used toward improving security in five of Salem's schools.

At Tuesday night's School Board meeting, the board voted unanimously in favor of the upgrades, which will total $105,657.

Those monies will be used to install entry-access systems, intercoms, security cameras and computer monitors at Salem High School and at Haigh, Soule, Fisk and Woodbury schools.

Secure access systems were previously installed at Barron, North Salem and Lancaster schools during recent renovations, according to Maintenance Director Jack Messenheimer.

But the other five schools still come up short, with a total of 18 access points in those buildings lacking sufficient security, Superintendent Michael Delahanty said.

At the high school, there are seven doors lacking controlled access, while there are four at Woodbury School.
With the board's blessings, the security upgrades will be completed over the course of the coming months, school officials said.

Once that happens, teachers and staff members will access the buildings using electronic key fobs, which can also be programmed to place doors on lockdown at certain times of the day.

Visitors would need to ring a buzzer that immediately contacts the staff in the main office before being permitted into the building, and each main office will also be equipped with "panic buttons" for immediate contact with the police and fire stations.

The high school library would receive a similar panic button.

"It's all done remotely," Messenheimer said of the key fobs, noting the system has proven reliable at the district's renovated schools.

With just over $300,000 soon to be remaining in the Capital Improvement fund, Delahanty said scheduled spring paving projects at Soule and Haigh schools could face some delays.

While he'd initially balked at locking school doors, Delahanty said he's heard many concerns from parents in the days following the Sandy Hook school shootings, leading him to reconsider the need for controlled access.

"It's the time we're living in," Delahanty said. "It's regrettable to have to make such a decision, but…the appropriate thing to do is act that way."

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