Secure entrance to be installed during summer

by Abby Lynn Harvey of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – An initial overview of the recent facilities study performed on the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah schools has revealed several necessary upgrades.

During a presentation by Bray Architects at the Monday evening meeting of the board, much discussion centered around the addition of a more secure entrance to the Elementary Middle School.

Security at the High School was not expressed to be a top priority at this time.

“That’s a different traffic flow pattern than what it is at the Elementary Middle School” District Administrator Ann Buechel Haack said. “Down there the big concern is there’s young kids. Up here (at the high school) a stranger’s not going to be able to walk in and take a student. They’re not going to go with a stranger most likely. But down there it’d be very easy for somebody to just come in and grab a student and go.”

Currently, visitors can enter the building from an entrance near the office. They are asked to then report to the office and sign in and receive a badge, but a visitor could easily bypass the office and gain access to the building.

It was stated that the Safety Committee had suggested earlier that a more secure entrance would be desirable at the Elementary Middle School. At the time the suggestion was made, the stated reason was only to better monitor the high traffic into the school.

“We sat with our safety committee and we had the Police Chief Scott Nieme there and they expressed that their main concern to be able to monitor the traffic flow,” Buechel Haack said. “If somebody ever, God forbid, wanted to come and do serious damage, they’re not going to use that entrance anyway. They’ll find a way to get into the building. But with the young kids, we just thought it was very important to know who was coming in the building.”

Concerns mentioned included custody issues. Increased concerns about school shootings were mentioned by Trustee Scott Heinig, given recent shootings of this type. Conversation moved from this concern quickly.

The proposed change to the entrance would remove the existing doors, and add new doors and frames further back into the entryway.

These doors would be equipped with a power locking system which would be controlled from the front desk. The doors would serve to direct the flow of traffic into the office and stop visitors from entering the building without the knowledge of the staff.

To enter the building guests would turn left into the office, where they would check-in and receive a badge before continuing into the corridor.

A wall and door in the office would be removed to expand office space to better fit the proposed traffic flow. It was proposed that this was the most feasible way to continue due to the limitations of the existing building.

Some conflict arose with the proposed use of glass instead of block on the sides of the secure double door. The glass, it was said, would cost $6,000.

The rational for using glass instead of block was to give the entrance a more open feeling.

“He (the architect) thought it looked more institutionalized and not as friendly,” Buechel Haack said of the block option.

After lengthy discussion about the financial responsibility of such a design addition, Trustee Scott Starnitcky made a motion to approve the project and allow for changes to the glass or block wall pending further pricing information.

“I’d like to see the project go ahead and I think we need to do that tonight,” he said. “I think we should pick a contractor, but I’m hoping that possibly our building committee could ultimately decide whether we go with block or glass to keep the project moving and then put the minor details aside if we have to.”

The motion passed with Heinig abstaining.

Also included in the motion was new flooring for the area.

Other projects given priority in the facilities study were:

• Updating the fire alarm in the Elementary/ Middle School.

• Adding emergency lights to Tech Ed/ Shop rooms

• Adding emergency shut off buttons in science rooms.

• Replacing a generator

• Replacing the High School HVAC system (the current system should last roughly seven more years)

Some attention was also placed on updating cabinetry and working on getting the schools in compliance with ADA standards

The board also approved the continuation of plans to transition into a Cum Laude recognition system at the high school.

The system will be two tiered, allowing for either one or .5 laude points to be given for rigorous classes.

Laude Tier 1 would include classes that have been accredited by a college or university. This would included classes like calculus, horticulture and psychology. These classes would be worth one Laude point per semester.

Laude Tier 2 would included classes which have advanced standing or were teacher chosen. This would included classes like design and engineering, Spanish IV and European Literature. These classes would be worth .5 Laude points per semester.

The next step in the adoption of the Cum Laude system will be to develop Laude bands which will define how many points are necessary for Laude ratings.

The next meeting of the Elkhart Lake School Board will be held on June 17 at 7 p.m.

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