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[August 15, 2014]
Van Buren Schools Heighten Security Measures [Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. :: ]
(Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 15--New security measures will be seen next week at Van Buren School District, put in place in an effort to continue to keep safe students and administrators.
Assistant Superintendent Brian Summerhill said among the upgrades are new security cameras at some schools and intercom systems at the front entrance of each school in the district.
Summerhill said the initial process to heighten security throughout the district was conducted in phases, beginning last school year.
He said some buildings got equipment right away, while others took more time. Van Buren High School, Summerhill said, had to be remodeled to add a security entrance.
Each school now has a "buzz-in intercom system" where all visitors will enter the facilities through a secured entrance, approach the buzzer system and state the purpose before they may enter the building.
The estimated project cost was $40,000, but almost half of that included a remodel of the high school, while the rest was to purchase the intercom systems and cameras, according to the superintendent's office.
Some schools, such as Butterfield Trail Middle School, have a direct line of sight to the lobby area and did not receive video surveillance systems, while others did, Summerhill said.
Northridge Middle School, with an enrollment of about 700 students, added something a bit extra by painting paw prints that guide visitors to the camera and intercom system.
"We have three sets of doors, so it makes it more user-friendly to guide them to the specific door where the camera and intercom system are," Principal Lonnie Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the security measures allow for a safer environment for students, faculty and staff.
"It allows us to screen visitors before they come into the building, and keeps us aware of who is in our building," Mitchell said.
Summerhill said each school did something similar to make the transition to the new security measures seamless and user friendly.
Summerhill said with the last phase of the project completed over the summer, the district has completed another layer of protection for students and staff.
"We're slowing someone down and asking them their purpose before they enter our buildings," Summerhill said. "It's a general safety practice." The new security measures will be in effect for the first day of school on Monday, Summerhill said.
More than 5,800 students were enrolled at Van Buren schools in 2013-14.
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