In the wake of a Dec. 14 school shooting that killed 20 students and six educators in Newtown, Conn., trustees of the Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley unified school districts have been searching for ways to secure local classrooms against an intruder on campus.
One tactic that both districts are adopting is the use of locking mechanisms that allow teachers to quickly lock their classroom doors from the inside with the push of a button — sparing the need to open the door to use their keys in the outside locks.
At its Jan. 22 meeting, the Scotts Valley school board voted to spend nearly $100,000 to install the locks on 257 classroom doors at the district’s four schools.
Superintendent Penny Weaver said reacting quickly was a priority for the district.
“We’re being proactive,” Weaver said. “Our goal is to have (the work) done by the first week in April.”
She said the district would eventually seek grant money to reduce the cost of purchasing and installing the locks, but trustees elected to use general fund money to get the locks in place as soon as possible.
“All the classrooms need (the locks),” she said. “We need to move forward and we can’t wait.”
When engaged, Weaver said, the locks could be released from inside with the turn of the door handle — per fire safety regulations — but would need a key to open from the outside.
She said the next step the board discussed was installing some sort of protection for windows located near classroom doors to prevent access through the windows.
Scotts Valley Police Department Chief John Weiss said he was pleased by the board’s rapid action, calling the locks “a wise investment for school safety.”
“I applaud it,” he said. “This is one (solution) that seemed like a quick way to make the classrooms that much safer.”
A similar item is on the agenda for the Wednesday, Feb. 6, meeting of the board of trustees for San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District.
According to Superintendent Julie Haff, every classroom the district has built since 2001 has been equipped with an indoor lock, and all the district’s classrooms were recently outfitted with new window blinds.
“We’ve got a good head start on that,” she said.
Haff said the presentation on the board’s agenda would address the installation of locks on the doors of the district’s older classrooms.
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