BRASHER FALLS - The St. Lawrence Central School District will hold a public hearing Tuesday night to take comment on a proposed $375,000 project to upgrade security at their schools.
The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the middle/high school library, and the vote will be from 1 to 7 p.m. April 9 in the high school gym lobby.
Superintendent Stephen M. Putman told board of education members Wednesday night that were originally planned to beef up security with camera. But after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., he said they decided to take additional precautions by proposing a capital project would provide more secure entrances to the schools and changes to door locks in classrooms.
The elementary and high school buildings are currently configured with outside and inside doors prior to entering the school. Under the proposed plan, visitors would still be able to access the schools through the outside doors, but would need to check in with a secretary before the inside set of doors would be unlocked.
Mr. Putman said that, as part of the capital project, theyll need to create a window between the two sets of doors at the high school and elementary and a slot where visitors can provide their identification before entering the school. The entrance to the middle school will not be accessible during the day.
The space between the two sets of doors is sufficient at the high school, he said.
The way the office is set up, its not going to require much change at all, he said.
At the elementary, however, a little more rearranging will be necessary, according to Mr. Putman. He said the two sets of doors are closer, approximately 4 feet, and that will need to be extended. But, he noted, the entire set of doors can be moved together, making the job easier.
Moving the outside and inside doors farther apart would give them the room they need to provide a space to monitor visitors and sign them in.
They will also need to reconfigure the elementary office area to relocate the secretary to what is currently a conference and meeting room.
One issue that theyll need to address is handicapped access, Mr. Putman said.
The doors may have to be able to swing (open) by pushing an access button, he said. Thats a question for the architects.
The proposed capital project would also allow teachers to lock their classroom doors from the inside. Currently, most of them are configured to be locked from the outside only.
When we go to a lockdown, teachers are supposed to look out (into the hallway), grab any kids in the area and then lock their door, he said.
With the change, there will be less exposure for teachers and students, Mr. Putman said.
Voter approval for the project is necessary because its an additional cost to their current project. The district is eligible for 98 percent state aid on the project and still has EXCEL aid remaining.
Also on the security front, middle school Principal Christopher W. Rose said he is trying to get more of a police presence in the school. He said New York State Police visit the school regularly, but maintain a satellite office at the Brasher-Winthrop Fire Department building. Hed like them to consider changing that location to the district, where they could use a room with a computer and phone to complete their paperwork and provide an on-site presence for at least an hour.
They could at least be in the building, and its not costing us anything, Mr. Rose said. Each one of them Ive spoken to has been more than willing to make that change.
The district had a school resource officer, Trooper Clinton Johnson, until 2010 when state police were taken out of schools and reassigned to road patrols under former Gov. David A. Patersons budget.