A more secure entryway approved for Greendale elementary school

Published on: 1/21/2014

Greendale — Canterbury Elementary has the standard security measures for school visitors — locked doors, security cameras, intercom communication — but once guests have been authorized to enter, they must find the office located in the center of the school.

The concern is that a visitor may not identify themselves at the office as soon as they enter the building, said Canterbury Principal Christian Pleister.

'As it is now, you could still walk into the building without having to stop in the office,' Pleister said.

Canterbury, as well as the school district's other two elementary schools, are not designed with offices at the entryways, he noted.

But when the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., occurred in 2012, administrators began to reconsider the layout of their schools, Pleister said.

'If you look at a lot of elementary schools (across the country), they were never set up to be super secure places,' he said. 'There was just a lot of open space. Newtown got people to start thinking about that.'

To establish that extra security measure for Canterbury, the Greendale School Board on Monday unanimously approved a capital project that will change the school's entryway.

'We're going to flip-flop two classrooms and another room with the office,' said Brian Koffarnus, director of facilities, who presented the annual school safety and security update at the meeting. 'We want to put in as many barriers as possible for possible intruders ... and we want to make sure there's no other way (into the school) than directly through the front office, like at the middle school and high school.'

Canterbury's new entryway is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, but the school will use in-house resources to reduce the expense, Koffarnus said.

The district hopes to have the new entryway built in time for the 2014-15 school year, with most of the construction done over the summer, he said.

Proposals to remodel the entryways for the other two elementary schools, College Park and Highland View, were also discussed at the board meeting.

Those projects are more costly and 'unfortunately, the board can't afford to do all three (capital projects) at once,' Koffarnus said.