In the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., the Nashua School District is putting its security upgrades on the fast track.
Nashua’s Board of Education is moving forward with a nearly $2 million upgrade to the security systems in its 17 schools.
It’s almost the same plan the board proposed three years ago, but then delayed because of budget restraints.
But the assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School is prompting the district to ramp up the pace on two items in the system.
First, the district will install digital cameras and electronic locks at the main entrances to buzz visitors in.
Second, it will place locks on the outside and inside of doors so teachers and staff can prevent intruders from coming in to the classrooms.
Superintendent Mark Conrad says Sandy Hook Elementary School had a similar security system to the one Nashua is implementing.
I think what saved lives in that instance was the quick reaction of the school staff and the police department. We have emergency response plans for how we respond when that kind of instances would occur. I think it’s that human element of knowing how to respond and having plans in place that, in the end, can do the most good in keeping us safe without simply relying on the physical security system.
Conrad says that since that day three weeks ago when a Connecticut gunman took the lives of 20 first graders, six teachers and his own, the Nashua police department has stepped up its presence in the schools.
They’ve dedicated some of their patrol officers who are out on the street into making sure they’re out in their schools every day. Obviously, that has an impact on manpower, but they’ve been able to make that commitment.
Despite the tragedy in Newtown, Conrad is careful not to overreact.
Tens of millions of students go to school every day. And they return home every day safe and sound. They’re probably safer in school statistically than when they’re driving to school with their parents.
Nashua’s board of education expects to begin installing the control systems at the main entrances in the next few weeks.
And classroom door locks, by the summer.
Nashua is hosting a community forum Thursday, Jan. 10 to discuss school safety. It begins at 7 p.m. at Nashua High School North.