TCU adds security measures

    After the Sandy Hook tragedy in December, Superintendent Matt Helgerson is making sure Tri-City United School District’s buildings are secure.
    At a workshop of the TCU School Board on Monday, Jan. 28, Helgerson presented additional security measures for all of TCU’s buildings. Since that meeting, several have already been implemented.
    The added security measures include video monitoring of incoming visitors, a buzzer system to enter the campus buildings, and added lockdown buttons that allow the classroom doors to be easily secured in seconds from inside the classroom during a lockdown emergency.
    The added security measures come on the heels of a written threat that forced the lockdown of the Montgomery Elementary and Middle Schools on January 24. Helgerson said he enacted the district’s Emergency Action Plan and called for a soft lockdown.
    “We live in a different time,” he told the board. “We don’t have a choice anymore. If there’s a threat, we have to take it 100 percent seriously.”

Montgomery Elementary and Middle Schools
    The building with the biggest need in the district is the Montgomery Elementary and Middle Schools, which are made up of the oldest buildings in the district.
    Helgerson said all classrooms and the “commons areas” now have speakers, in addition to paging capabilities and more cameras in the buildings. He said additional lockdown buttons for administrative areas are also on order.
    That location, as well as the buildings in Lonsdale, and Le Center will all receive a video monitoring and buzzer system with an intercom that visitors will use after the school day begins. Helgerson explains how people will buzz the secretary, who will identify them and buzz them in.
    “When people enter the building they will buzz to go to the office,” Helgerson explained. “The office will make voice and visual contact and buzz the person in.”

Lonsdale
    In addition to the video buzzing system, Helgerson added that the Lonsdale school should also be receiving addition cameras inside of the building.

Le Center
    Helgerson said the Le Center Elementary and Middle School has a lot of video cameras, but still needs the video monitoring and buzzer system, and that the exterior front doors need to be locked after the school day begins.

High School
    Because it is a new building, the TCU High School already has security systems in place. That comes with a modern paging and alert system, as well as 45 cameras that scan any motion in and outside of the building. Helgerson said the cameras are so powerful, they can read a license plate in the school’s parking lot.
    Also at the high school, all the doors are locked and visitors are required to check in with the high school secretary before proceeding into the building. The superintendent said the building just needs a few updates and additional lockdown buttons.
    With all of the upgrades to the district, Helgerson said the buildings and students are more secure than ever before, and technology is allowing school officials to lockdown the building, no matter where they are.
    “We can lock down every building in the district with the use of a smart phone,” he said. “It’s very secure.”
    The cost for the upgrades costs approximately $11,068. The funds will come from Safe Schools and Health and Safety funds.