Serious security upgrades at local schools

SPANAWAY -- Kids are getting ready to go back to class in a few days, and schools are getting ready for them – with significant security upgrades.

Spanaway Elementary is being outfitted with videophones at the front door so visitors will no longer be able to waltz right in.  Instead, someone inside will have to see who it is and buzz the door open.

The Bethel School District is spending around $138,000 to install the equipment at 26 of its schools.

“The camera will transmit to the office staff who will be able to see them through the video phone and will be able to say, hey, come on in,” said Krista Carlson with the district.

Earlier this week, a gunman inside a school near Atlanta sent students scrambling for safety.

That incident, and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, Conn., has local districts rethinking their security measures.

“Given some of the latest news media and some actions by the state Legislature, we believe the time is now to make those changes happen and so we’re hoping this new system really provides our students with a more safe and secure location to work,” added Carlson.

Just down the highway, the Rainier School District is testing a new security app.  It would alert the cops the very moment an emergency starts. And, at the push of a button, the all entrances to the building could be locked simultaneously.

“Within a matter of seconds, 3-5 seconds, it empowers staff to make that decision that children are at risk and initiate a lockdown,” said Rainier Superintendent Tim Garchow.

The ‘School Alert’ app can also immediately route live video from school surveillance cameras to police – even before they arrive on the scene.

That app could be up and running at Rainier schools next month.

The Washington Office of Public Instruction has $10 million in grant money ready to help schools beef up their security measures.