Middle school roof, high school security revamped
By Scott Bellile
New London teens set foot in two schools this week that received major structural updates over the summer. While the Intermediate/Middle School’s changes will slip by unnoticed for most, the high school’s modifications will be hard to ignore.
New London Intermediate/Middle School had 60 percent of its roofing replaced over the summer to maintain the structural integrity of the building.
Meanwhile, New London High School’s daytime entrance has moved and has become more secure. This project was initiated to combat the gun violence a number of schools across the nation have seen in recent years.
“You hope and pray that it’s never New London, but you have to be ready for that,” said Joe Marquardt, the school district’s director of business services.
The projects are possible because of a non-recurring referendum that local voters approved last year. Over the course of four years, $500,000 per year will be used to repair the roofing (70 percent of the referendum), improve safety and security in the district (20 percent) and add literacy resources in elementary classrooms (10 percent).
“We are sincerely grateful to our community for the support this referendum provides,” District Administrator Kathy Gwidt said.
Marquardt said Walsdorf Roofing of Kiel finished 10 of the 21 sections on the intermediate/middle school’s roof, and the remainder will be tackled next summer. The sections replaced had last been repaired between 1987 and 1997.
Commissioning the roof project was important, Marquardt said, because a deteriorating roof could introduce mold to the school, or moisture could get inside and ruin expensive flooring like that of the gymnasium.
When the project is finished, the roof’s lifespan is expected to extend another 30 to 40 years, Marquardt said.
The security upgrade at the high school converted space on the building’s west side into a centralized location where principals, the counselor, the nurse and other employees will all be able to help one other if a situation arises.
“By bringing them closer together, there’s going to be efficiencies,” Marquardt said.
The main entrance will now be locked during school hours and visitors will need to enter at door 21. At the new entrance, cameras are up, the administrative assistant buzzes visitors in from behind a glass window and the liaison officer works nearby in the event of an emergency.
“We’re trying to be proactive to the security of our buildings rather than reactive,” Marquardt said.
What visitors won’t see, Marquardt said, are metal detectors and security guards. The district wants to be sensible with its spending, and when it comes down to it, the campus is a school, “not a jail.”
Marquardt said the other schools in the district won’t see extensive remodeling projects for security upgrades, but people should expect security cameras and “minor” changes.