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May 07. 2013 7:13PM

School security set to get a boost in Nashua

NASHUA - Students returning to school in the Nashua School District next year will likely see significantly improved security after the Finance and Operations Committee recommended Monday night that the Board of Education approve a $1.9 million district-wide security update.

While the ball was already rolling on improving security, district officials say the Newtown, Conn., school massacre expedited the process by at least a year.

"This will be a significant upgrade in terms of security in the district," Nashua School District Chief Financial Officer Dan Donovan said.

Donovan said most of the project would be covered by a $2.4 million bond for school security approved by the Board of Aldermen earlier this year.

School Board member and Finance Committee Chairman Dennis Ryder said that while the cost initially gave him pause, he has come to the conclusion that the upgrade is required.

"I've analyzed the problem and the $2 million needs to be spent, which is a sad commentary on today's set of affairs. Gun violence is far too prevalent in America," Ryder said.

Donovan said the district received three bids for the security contract, with the winning bid submitted by Securadyne of Wilmington, Mass. If everything goes according to plan, the upgrade is expected to be completed in September.

The district is currently slated to spend $67,000 on the project, and is also setting aside $50,000 for a contingency fund should the project run over budget. Donovan said that with some further oversight, it might be possible the school won't have to pay anything for the upgrade.

Securadyne's initial bid was for roughly $2.3 million, but by removing the Broad Street School from the project and eliminating aspects of the bid deemed unnecessary, the cost was reduced.

"Nothing that was removed from the bid will impact security in any way," Donovan said.

Broad Street was not included, Donovan said, because the entire school is slated for an upgrade in the near future and its security will be upgraded as part of that project.

The district has already spent about $400,000 of the bond money on the purchase and installation of special "Columbine" locks on classroom doors. The locks, which can be locked from both the inside and outside, are expected to be installed in every classroom by the end of the school year.

Nashua High School North and South are scheduled to receive more than $300,000 in upgrades, while the middle schools and elementary schools will receive between $100,000 and $200,000 in upgrades.

"This is a bit more expensive than I thought it would be. I thought that the high schools were state of the art but I was mistaken. I was told (Monday night) that they have been failing for the past two years," Ryder said.

The upgrades will include motion sensors, upgraded camera systems, cameras on every entrance and exit in every school, new security substations, improved alarm systems and more.

"It is a very sophisticated security device," Ryder said.

The next step is for the Board of Education to approve the contract, Ryder said, and pending that approval, construction will begin as soon as the school year ends.

A security upgrade nearly identical in scope was originally approved in 2008, but shortly before the project was to go to contract the district discovered a $3 million deficit, killing the project.


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