Springfield schools to start safety improvements

“We’ll start (today),” Superintendent David Estrop said. “We want to make our schools more safe and secure, as well as advancing technology.”

The district will let a 2.43-mill levy expire, meaning the bond issue passed Tuesday with a 60 percent “yes” vote won’t increase tax bills. It’s expected to generate $14 million over 12 years.

At the Springfield board of education meeting today, members will consider putting contracts out to bid for improvements to elementary school parking lots and upgrades to existing security systems.

While each building has surveillance cameras, Estrop said many of them are 10 years old and don’t allow for high-resolution images. The district will add cameras to more locations and install high-definition units that will include clearer images.

The system will also be more easily accessible by law enforcement and first-responders. Estrop said the upgrades have been needed for some time, but the shooting in Newtown, Conn., brought home the need to take action.

“(When) Newtown happened, it answered all of our questions. Absolutely, it was critical,” he said. “We want to protect our kids, our staff, the volunteers in our schools and the buildings.”

Parent Sierra Rouch’s main concern is protecting her daughter, who attends preschool at the Clark Center.

“Security is the No. 1 thing when you leave your kid out here at the school. You want to know they’re safe and that (when) you’re picking them up they’re going to be safe when you get there,” she said.

The parking lots and driveways at several schools will also be expanded. Nowhere is the need more evident, Estrop said, then at Perrin Woods Elementary where heavy congestion makes entering and exiting the school difficult.

It’s expected construction could begin as soon as June once the contracts are awarded. Estrop said he hopes all upgrades would be done before school resumes in the fall.

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