Safer Schools: Local school districts plan summer upgrades

GRAHAM, Wash.—School districts across Western Washington plan to work over the summer to make schools safer for students when they return to class in the fall.

The Bethel School District has already begun adding new view holes to portable doors. The district has 201 portable classrooms spread across 27 schools. About 5,500 students have a class in a portable. Superintendent Tom Seigel said all 201 portables will have the view holes installed for security reasons by fall 2018.

“Out here the kids and the staff are more exposed,” said Seigel, “We’re installing view windows so that the people on the inside of the classroom can see who is knocking on the door and determine whether or not they should be allowed in the classroom.”

Seigel said the district also plans to replace old doors at all schools, add better locks, add more security cameras, build better fencing and add an additional school resource officer.

Seigel said the district is paying for the upgrades with its operations and maintenance budget. He said they also plan to have a bond on the November ballot that would include enhanced security measures. Among some of the changes the bond would fund: security cameras and more secure entrances.

“There are a number of things that need to be done and, frankly, it requires a bond in order to be able to spend the money that’s required for some of those changes,” said Seigel.

Several other school districts also plan to spend the summer working on upgrades. The Auburn School District plans to add more security cameras. The Eatonville School District plans to upgrade its entrance security, cameras and network infrastructure.