Washington district upgrades security at elementary schools

Posted at 12:15 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 06:27:41-04

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — A Washington school district has outfitted three of its elementary schools with security upgrades designed to manage who is allowed in.

Pullman Public Schools has added electronic locks, surveillance cameras and an audio system to address visitors, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported Monday.

All exterior doors to Jefferson, Franklin and Sunnyside elementary schools will be locked once classes begin, the district near the Washington-Idaho border said. Visitors will be required to speak to a receptionist before they are allowed through locked doors at the main entrance.

The upgrades cost nearly $40,000, said Joe Thornton, the district's director of operations.

"The reality is probably 95% of the people coming to the door our office staff are going to know," Thornton said. "But if we don't know who they are, there can be some communication and then we know who's coming in the building."

Sunnyside Elementary Principal Pam Brantner said the upgrades are not intended to deter visitors but are a necessary layer of protection. Schools work to maintain a balance between creating a secure learning environment and one that is open and welcoming.

"I think it's a positive change and my hope is that parents don't see it as we don't want people to come to our schools, because we sure do," Branter said. "We want parents that volunteer all the time and we want to see their smiling faces come through the door — we're just making sure that we're keeping their little, tiny kids' smiling faces safe."