Tuesday was the first day back at school for Davenport students.
The recent tragedy in Connecticut was front and center for some parents and students and definitely administrators who are upping the ante on security at schools like McKinley Elementary.
Co-president of the McKinley PTA, Tracie Swanson, met with administrators Tuesday to discuss what to say to fellow parents about student security.
“You think you can send them away for the day and they’re just fine,” said Swanson. “But, I don’t think we live in that kind of world.”
20 school kids died in December after police say Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way through the locked Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
His rampage sent shockwaves across school districts everywhere.
“All of us stopped and had to think about the unthinkable,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Tate, of the Davenport Community School District. “I was in the Army for 26 years and I thought about that stuff all the time. As an educator you don’t. It makes you stop and realize how vulnerable we are.”
The school district will now fast-track plans for a security overhaul.
Included are the following steps:
1. Secure entrances
2. Intruder locks on classroom doors
3. Update public address system
5. Upgrade exterior doors and windows
6. Intercom entry system
Even with upgrades and updated security, the fact remains that, according to police, in Newtown the gunman entered a secure building by shooting his way through the school.
“It shows you that no matter what the security measures are, if someone with a mental illness or mentally deranged has a handful of guns, there’s not much locked doors can do about it,” she said.
Still, prevention is key and Swanson is glad that at her kids’ schools, more is being done to increase safety.
“I think that if anything good is going to come out of what happened, it’s that we’re going to reevaluate and see what else we could be doing.”
In total, it could take 4-5 years to have everything complete, but the bulk should be done by the end of next school year, according to a district spokesperson.