WESTFIELD, NJ — The Board of Education has agreed have an architectural firm look into security upgrades to school building entryways, a move that follows the arrest of an armed man on the grounds of a local elementary school earlier this month.
The school board awarded a $9,500 contract to pay the architectural firm, Fraytak Veisz Hopkins and Duthie P.C., of Trenton, to design plans for the installation of “security vestibules and related renovations” Tuesday.
School Business Administrator Dana Sullivan said the plans under consideration would have the district look into entryways that improve on the traditional “man-trap,” a vestibule where a first set of doors locks before a second set is opened, typically by someone greeting the visitor through an intercom and remote security camera.
“What they’re doing now is you come through a first set of doors, and then you interact with someone behind a shatterproof, bulletproof type of glass. And if you qualify, they buzz you in,” Sullivan said.
The architectural firm is anticipated to return the designs at the end of this summer, Sullivan said. If approved, the district then would propose a school bond referendum to fund the improvements at the end of March, she said.
In the June 13 incident at Tamaques Elementary School, a man who police later found in his car and arrested on charges that he had a handgun and hollow-point bullets had entered the school building on multiple occasions after school hours, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case.
Member Gretchan Ohlig, who chairs the school board’s facilities committee, said the contract award is in line with pricing for other similar work the board has approved.
“This is one piece of a much larger piece of the puzzle, and what happened at Tamaques School was part of the after-school part of the puzzle,” Ohlig said.
Board member Brendan Galligan pointed to two elementary schools he said most need the improvements.
“We wouldn’t do the work at Jefferson and Washington without reconfiguring all the entrances,” Galligan said. “And we have to look at parity for all of the schools.”
He noted that the district looked at security improvements in 2013, following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Reconfiguring the entrances isn’t a new thing,” Galligan said. “But we have five more years of experience to see what the best use is of our money.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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