Officials Discuss Security Plans for Proposed New Elementary School

Officials Discuss Security Plans for Proposed New Elementary School

Gardner, Mass., officials and security consultants are discussing the security plans for a proposed new elementary school as the city works through the approval process with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Gardner, Mass., officials and security consultants are discussing the security plans for a proposed new elementary school as the city works through the approval process with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

The proposed new school would serve preschool through fourth grade. While the land for the proposed site has not yet been purchased, consultants and other officials are working on the design and going over planned security features.

At the April 24 School Building Committee meeting, Matthew Allain, director of security design and engineering for Good Harbor Techmark, went over some of the security features planned in the new school’s designs.

The building’s doors would have an access control system, including features like card readers, electric locks and video intercoms. Staff would have cards to give them access to the building, and the video intercom would allow office staff to see and speak to visitors before allowing them into the building.

“You can completely vet somebody before allowing them access to the building,” Allain said.

According to Allain, doors would be made with “ballistic resistant glass,” which is not bulletproof but is instead designed to withstand the initial gunshots in the case of an active shooter. The ballistic-resistant glass can slow down a shooter’s ability to get inside a school building, allowing more time for those inside to find safety and for first responders to arrive.

Allain said that certain places within the school would have either a “lockdown button” or a “duress button.” A lockdown button would lock all of the doors, disable the entrance card readers and provide direct communication with 911. The duress button would allow a staff member in a threatening situation to trigger a silent alarm to other staff, letting them know where the alarm was triggered.

He also talked about the school having a security camera system to provide ““complete coverage of the exterior of the building,” including the parking lot. Allain said the surveillance system would include cameras for the interior of the building, keeping an eye on areas like entry points, hallways, the cafeteria and the gym.

A finalized budget for the project would not be set until later this year, but a preliminary estimate gave a total project cost of between $83 million and $89 million.

Consultants will take part in a public presentation and hearing on the project to give the public a chance to learn more and provide input.

According to the project consultants, the new school could open as early as September 2022.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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