Safety at center of recent, future bond improvements [video]

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 4:30pm
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Secured school main entry vestibules provide additional layer of security

When the Five Star Schools community approved a $350 million construction bond in November 2016 to update district schools and facilities, school safety and security was a key component of the plan.

Planned safety and security upgrades include new and upgraded building security cameras and electronic building access for staff.

Five Star Schools 2016 Bond Program Security Improvements

As design work began in 2017 on the first district schools to receive bond renovation work, the need for improved secured entrances was a common interest of school Design Advisory Groups, made up of parents, staff and community members, who meet with architects to prioritize improvements. This, coupled with national events that again thrust school safety to the forefront, prompted Five Star Schools to prioritize bond money for main entry security improvements.

As part of renovations this past summer at nine district schools, main building entrances were modified to provide an additional level of secured access for building visitors. At schools where the existing building layout allowed, new secured vestibules were created where visitors can enter a first set of doors to interact with office via a glass transaction window. If visitors need to enter the main portion of the building, they will go through the security screening process and be cleared before they proceed through a second set of locked doors. At schools where the building’s design allowed, the secured vestibules were designed with a pass through where items such as student lunches and backpacks can be exchanged with office staff.

The newly opened Thunder Vista P-8 in Broomfield has a similar entry and the new STEM Lab will also have a secured vestibule with transaction window when it is completed in 2019.

In schools where the building layout doesn’t allow for the addition of a transaction window, visitors will enter a secured vestibule where they interact with office staff remotely via a video intercom, then use a computer kiosk to complete security screening before they enter the building.

“In the early- to mid-2000’s, we started directing school visitors into the main office before allowing full access to the school building,” Chris Wilderman, Adams 12 Five Star Schools Director of Safe and Sustainable Environments, explained of the evolving landscape of school security. "While this was a step in the right direction toward keeping students more safe, the next evolution of safety is the secure vestibule.”

Over the course of the bond, the district will prioritize the investment of new secured vestibule entrances at all schools that don’t currently have some format of a secured main entry vestibule.

While secured school main entry vestibules are emerging as a nationally recognized best practice, Wilderman acknowledged the difficult balance that must be found between maintaining a warm, welcoming school environment but also recognizing the need to safeguard students and staff.

“Through secure vestibules we are able to still create a warm, inviting entrance but allow staff to have some interaction before allowing visitors into the building,” Wilderman said. “Not only is this safer for students, but we are also taking employee safety into consideration with this model.”

Wilderman explained that secured building entrances are just one aspect of Five Star Schools layered approach to building safety.

“As we continue to refine and improve school security we understand the important relationship between three resources: physical security, human resources and training and programming,” he said. “These combined resources create a much stronger security system than each individual resource taken on its own.”

The district’s recently-approved mill levy override, developed from priorities established in a year-long strategic plan process, will also provide additional money for school safety, especially at the high school level. Learn more about these planned investments at www.adams12.org/elevate/funding-plan.