School board approves some administration proposals
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville School Board approved only a portion of the administration’s recommended safety improvements to the district’s buildings at its meeting Monday, May 8.
Steve Reinke, buildings and grounds director, informed the board about the recommended safety improvements for the elementary school, middle school, and high school.
Recommended changes to the middle school included the addition of a glass wall inside the building at the main entrance. Two doors would lead into this walled off area.
“People would have to come through the two doors. All the other doors would be locked,” Reinke said.
Once inside the building, Reinke said visitors would have to go to a window that would be added to the office where visitors could communicate with office personnel. The office would have to be rearranged to accommodate the new window.
Reinke said the administration was “leaning towards” that option.
The estimated cost for the safety improvements was estimated to be $98,519. The administration also recommended a camera and buzzer system at the door on the north side of the building. That cost was estimated to be $2,250.
“It’s an improvement, and right now that’s what we’re seeking, some improvements,” said Tom O’Toole, superintendant for the Clintonville School District.
O’Toole acknowledged that the administration “isn’t thrilled” with the appearance of the wall. It also takes up a third of the open space in the entryway.
Board President Ben Huber said he liked the idea of adding cameras and a buzzer system, but had concerns about the cost of the glass wall.
“There’s not a window in this building that will stop a determined person from coming in,” Huber said. “To assume the door is the only place a person will come in, I think is $100,000 wasted.”
O’Toole said it was more of a guide to get visitors into the building and check-in at the office, rather than having access to the entire building once they are in the building.
“I think this is security money unwisely spent,” Huber said.
He added, “The American schools are still much safer than the American home. The minutes spent in the schools are the safest place for a child to be, better than on a playground, better than at home. It is an extremely safe environment. Yes there are crazy people in this world who do horrible things, but they’ve done that forever.”
Huber said he felt his children are safe in the buildings in the district.
“I don’t think that adding a layer of glass will make me feel any better,” Huber said.
Board member Jim Schultz asked if the police department was consulted regarding the safety improvement recommendations.
Reinke said the police department was not consulted.
Recommendations for the high school building included locking the second set of doors at the main entrance and adding a window to the office for visitors to communicate with office staff. The second set of doors would be buzzed open by office staff.
This would entail changing hardware on the doors, updating a present window and adding a buzzer system, Reinke said.
Improvements were also recommended for the Rec Center. This would include adding a set of doors.
A camera and buzzer system was also recommended for the receiving door used by delivery people.
The cost of improvements to the main entrance are estimated at $43,981, while the Rec Center area improvement estimate was $16,433, and the camera and buzzer system for the delivery door was $3,100.
Reinke said the only recommended improvement for the Dellwood building was adding a camera at the entrance door so office staff can see who is at the door. Currently office staff doesn’t have a visual of a visitor prior to buzzing them into the building.
The cost of the camera is estimated at $1,225.
Reinke said he is investigating adding more cameras around the Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School building as well as updating cameras.
He did have other options which required relocating rooms. One option was estimated at $227,000, while a second option was estimated at $153,000.
With the future of the building uncertain, Reinke said the best option would be researching security cameras for the building. He didn’t have an estimate for cameras for the building.
Schultz asked if each building has direct access to the police department. He was told that each building does.
“It seems to me that for a lot less money we’d get just as good security,” Schultz said.
Assistant High School Principal Eric Ward told the board that all schools in the Fox Valley have secure entrances. He said it doesn’t eliminate security issues, but it is a strong deterrent.
High School Principal Lance Bagstad added that most of the conversation focused on someone with a gun entering a school building.
“We have all kinds of other security issues that we deal with on a fairly regular basis,” Bagstad said. “… We have to think about all of the other issues that lead to a perception of safety. We are never going to completely create a 100 percent safe environment.”
He added that it is a good idea for visitors to have face-to-face contact with school staff prior to entering a building.
Huber agreed that it is good to know who is in the building, but that can be accomplished in a more economical way.
Board member Clyde Tellock recommended that all doors should be locked at all times and that the district needs a system that has sensors on all doors. This would allow school staff to know when a door is open.
Dins recommended installing cameras and intercoms at each building.
“I don’t know that we need to be cutting holes in the walls,” Dins said.
The board unanimously voted down the administration’s recommendations for each building.
A new motion was proposed to update the Rec Center hallway and update the current cameras and install more cameras in each building.
The motion passed 4-3. Tellock, Tom Neely and Dirk Weber voted no.
The costs will be paid for from the district’s maintenance budget and fund balance.