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Buffered entrances beef up safety for Madison schools

Workers with North Alabama Glass Company installed security doors at Heritage Elementary School on April 17. (CONTRIBUTED)
Workers with North Alabama Glass Company installed security doors at Heritage Elementary School on April 17. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – All Madison City Schools campuses soon will have security doors in place, one of the last of 32 recommendations from the Safe Schools Task Force.

The task force was organized after the fatal shooting of a Discovery Middle School student in 2010.

“The second set of security doors were a recommendation from our Safe Schools Task Force,” Dr. Daphne Jah, principal at West Madison Elementary School, said. The enhancements “allow us to welcome visitors in the office while keeping the student areas secure. We depend on layers of security, and this will certainly enhance the safety of our buildings.”

Similar to the work at West Madison, installation is underway or will start soon at Columbia, Heritage, Horizon, Madison and Rainbow elementary and Discovery middle schools. Doors will be active in early May.

Discovery Principal Dr. Robbie Smith observed workers installing the doors this week. “They are putting the framework up right now,” she said. “It provides another layer of protection for our students by limiting immediate hall access to the building.” Smith expected workers to finish by April 24.

James Clemens high and Mill Creek elementary schools were built with the security feature, public relations manager John Peck said. “Liberty was retrofitted with these doors a couple years ago.”

During renovations this summer, Bob Jones’ lobby area will be reconfigured with the double, electronic doors.

“Visitors with a legitimate need to be in the student area will still have to check in at the office and run their drivers’ license through a machine that checks their identification and spits out a photo ID badge,” Peck said. “Now, they’ll have to be ‘buzzed’ through the second set of doors to enter student areas.”

Project costs will run approximately $250,000. Pettus Mechanical of Rogersville is handling construction. “It’s funded from the capital budget along with grant assistance from State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw and Madison County Commissioner Steve Haraway,” Peck said.

In further security improvements, camera systems will be upgraded at all schools this summer.

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