School districts weigh costs of increased security

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Dozens of local schools are already changing their security plans to keep students safer.

They're looking at everything, from locking classroom doors, to adding police officers in the hallways.

"It's unfortunate the world has turned this way, because when I was a kid, we never had to deal with any of this," said Tim Aldrich as he picked up his two children from Center Grove Elementary School Monday afternoon.

The world Aldrich brings his kids to everyday at school, though, looks very different after Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. It's now a world of school districts re-assessing school security and asking if their districts are doing enough to keep students safe.

"We've never really had to worry about anything like this out here before and, apparently, neither did that school, but things are different now," said Cindy Beltz who works as a librarian at the same Center Grove Elementary School her daughter attends.

It is so different, Center Grove Community School Corporation has been re-examining security at all of its buildings. The district was already doing that after a strategic planning committee commissioned a study last year and found the district's buildings needed upgrades to safety and security measures.

"The majority of our buildings have been built pre-9/11, if you will, and they all lack some sort of security measure that you would expect nowadays," said Superintendent Rich Arkanoff.

Those measures include locked doors with buzzer systems to let guests inside the schools. Right now, the only building in the district that has a buzzer and a camera to let visitors in is the high school.

"We've talked about, 'Can we just go and lock all the front doors immediately?' The answer is probably not," said Arkanoff.

Arkanoff says manpower, someone to monitor the doors and unlock them for every visitor, would be an issue. That's why the district is planning to install cameras and buzzer systems at its eight other buildings in the next two months.

In the short term, the district could also add another resource officer to the two who patrol the schools now. The district's long-term plans, though, will mean structural changes to its buildings, at a cost of more than $40 million.

No matter what safety measures are in place though, said Arkanoff, no district can be ready for everything.

"I don't think the folks at that school could ever have anticipated such an awful thing happening and be prepared for it," he said.