December 18, 2013 01:15AM
By Mary Ellen Godin
MERIDEN — The city recently received $193,652 in state money to improve security at its 12 public schools by spring. The school board will pay an additional $58,525 for the work.
The money is part of a statewide initiative to improve security at all schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook School massacre, in Newtown, that left 20 students and six teachers dead one year ago.
“After Newtown, we did a school needs assessment, and the grant listed our highest needs,” said Michael Grove, assistant superintendent of finance and operations. “We applied and received the full funds we applied for.”
Meriden police conducted an extensive survey at all city schools and reviewed its communication and response protocols.
“In January, we visited every school,” Lt. Steve Lespier said. “We looked at the layout, our responses, and how to coordinate our efforts.”
The department was primarily concerned with communications in the event of a lockdown and worked with the schools to develop procedures. Several schools have already conducted drills, he said.
“For the most part, everybody was on the same page,” Lespier said.
In addition to developing lockdown strategies, the schools installed panic buttons that would trigger an alert directly to the Police Department. The button would only be used if a shooter entered the building or in the event of something else equally as threatening to students and staff, Grove said.
A glazing compound was also tested at John Barry School. The glaze prevents glass on doors and windows from shattering if struck by bullets, rocks or other materials. Although not a complete deterrent from entry, it can slow an intruder long enough for the police to arrive.
The glaze will be applied on the glass doors and windows of first floors of all city schools, Grove said.
Additionally, two to nine cameras will be added to every school and a new intercom system will be installed at Nathan Hale.
Police also recommended all entrances be locked at all times and staff members have been issued identification badges that also act as swipe cards.
The district has secured the funding and the next step is filing the paperwork to begin purchasing.
“We’re hoping to have all these in place by the spring,” Grove said.