New school buildings will keep kids safer

In an era of Run, Hide, Fight training in offices; Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate training for teachers, service personnel and school administrators; and a heightened sense of vigilance on the part of the general public, it is encouraging to know students in the Warren Local school district will be attending classes in buildings that, from their very construction, are designed to keep them safer.

“It’s crazy the amount of basic technology that can give you a higher level of vigilance in a new rather than refurbished building,” said Superintendent Kyle Newton.

Voters in the district can be thanked for giving the chance for such improvements.

When the buildings open, parents can be confident knowing they are sending their kids off to school in buildings with classrooms that have heavy, windowless doors that automatically lock during a lockdown; safe space and alternate exits; windows coated with a film that prevents glass being shattered by bullets. The buildings will have double-door entry (sometimes referred to as a “man trap”), all areas covered by cameras that can be accessed by law enforcement, alarm systems that indicate if an exterior door is propped open or fails to close fully.

And, because schools will be on a single campus, a full-time resource officer will be able to cover all buildings.

Those are just some of the features that will keep students (and everyone else in the schools) safer.

Think it is too much? Well, before you go assuming school shootings are a modern phenomenon, realize the first documented shooting in a school in the U.S. happened in 1840, and there were incidents throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Columbine was not the beginning, though it was among the deadliest.

In 1966, 18 were killed in the University of Texas tower shootings. In 1898, six were killed in Charleston, W.Va., during a student performance that was part of the school’s exhibition.

The difference since Columbine has been in the frequency and scope — 33 dead in the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007; 28 dead at Sandy Hook in 2012; 17 dead in Parkland, Fla., last year.

Our kids deserve every ounce of protection we can give them as they pursue their educations.

School officials and the district’s architectural firm have earned some kudos for putting in place everything they can think of, to make that happen.