Worthington News

High schools now focus of safety, security upgrades

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The Worthington City School District will spend nearly $1 million to beef up security at its high schools.

Approximately $650,000 will be spent at Thomas Worthington High School, where a separate visitors entrance will be built and where the layout of the building requires more work to secure the perimeter.

At both Thomas and Kilbourne, students and visitors will enter the schools through separate entrances.

At Thomas, the west entrance, nearest the parking lot, will be designated the student entrance.

The main entrance at Kilbourne will remain the student entrance.

Students will be able to enter freely before school starts, but "from bell to bell," any entering students must show proper identification before being checked in.

Any visitors at the school will be required to enter at a designated point and will go directly into an office. Only after the visitor has shown identification and has been approved will he or she be permitted into the school.

Most of the improvements will be done this summer and early fall.

The visitor forced-entry addition at Thomas Worthington will be constructed next spring and summer and is scheduled to be completed by the 2015-16 school year.

A committee has been looking at ways to beef up safety and security at all of the district's buildings since last year.

An outside firm, Brawnstone Security, reviewed all 19 school buildings, the Worthington Education Center and the transportation building.

The consultant made recommendations regarding securing the exterior perimeters, improving safety inside and training staff members.

The committee decided to do the work in phases, the first being the elementary and middle schools, all of which opened last fall with new security systems in place.

Each school has a security camera/buzz-in system at its front entrance; protective film over glass at the front entrance; a 911 panic button in the main office; and digital two-way radios with a dedicated channel to the Worthington police department.

The protective film, panic buttons and radios are also part of the high school plan, but an architect had to be hired to design forced-entry offices at each school.

"It is not as simple at the high schools, based on the number of people coming and going," said Jeff Maddox, director of innovation and school support.

As he did when he presented the elementary/middle school plans a year ago, he told the Worthington Board of Education on April 14 that the solutions are not fail-safe.

"No matter what we have in place, we're not going to be able to stop everything," he said. "We have to be able to slow things down."

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