The town of Westport allotted $200,000 towards new school locks during a special RTM Meeting on Tuesday, representing one of the first changes to improve school safety.
Current hardware requires teachers to lock classrooms from outside the doors, putting them at risk in a crisis. The new system will make the doors automatically lock once closed, without requiring any magic key. The need for new locks was determined by Westport’s working with Kroll, a leader in risk mitigation.
“All of this is built around deterring and delaying,” said Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman. “If there is not an easy access this well help them move on; delay is key.”
More than 1,400 locks will be replaced throughout the public school system, costing $200,000 at around $130 per lock. A $40,000 rebate from the state government will bring the town's cost down to $160,000.
“This is simple, effective and easily maintained,” said Jack Kling.
But some questioned how valuable the locks would be considering the classroom doors are composed of glass.
“Well has the glass on top been tested?” asked Author Ashman of District 7. “How does the security of the glass itself expose the lock?”
Elio Longo, the school business administrator, said the town is exploring other deterrents, such as wire mesh for glass panels or the installation of protective security films for the windows.
Others wondered why the security process has taken as long as it has. To which, Elaine Whitney responded by saying a number of procedural steps and operational steps have already taken place. Whitney also said it is important to move carefully.
The approval passed by 28 members of RTM, with one abstaining. The locks will be installed this summer.