Farmington schools to receive security upgrades

Renovations are scheduled to install new secure entryways at six schools and the district's administrative office.

Joshua Kellogg
Secretary Gloria Shirley said the current interior doors of the main entrance to Apache Elementary School, seen here, will be locked during school hours and visitors will have to walk past staff members in the office and then be buzzed in through a new security door to gain access to the building. Students can be seen heading home from the school on Thursday.

FARMINGTON – Front entrances on several Farmington school buildings will receive $1.14 million in upgrades and redesigns this summer that are intended to protect students and staff from unwanted visitors.

The upgrades — which include electronic locks, key card entry and drivers license scans for visitors — are part of an ongoing district plan to provide classroom security for students at schools and district facilities.

The Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education approved the upgrades during its meeting on Thursday.

“This has been a board priority and a district priority to make our schools safer for all of our students,” board Vice President Mike Isaacson said.

Funding for the projects comes from a 2014 general obligation bond sale approved by voters.

Winters Construction in Farmington was awarded three bids for renovation work at six schools and the district’s administrative office at 2001 N. Dustin Ave.

Work on the security upgrades is scheduled to begin later this month after the school year ends and is expected to be completed before the start of the 2016-2017 school year on Aug. 16, according to Ted Lasiewicz, the district's chief of operations.

The schools receiving the upgrades are Apache, Bluffview, Country Club and Esperanza elementary schools, Tibbetts Middle School and Pierda Vista High School.

A secure entrance will be installed at each district building that will require visitors to check-in at the front office before being allowed entry.

“No one will be allowed in a facility unless they are vetted through the front office,” Lasiewicz said. “No one would be able to enter a school and wander around.”

The renovations will install a new entryway at the six schools and the district’s administrative office.

Secretary Gloria Shirley said the current interior doors of the main entrance to Apache Elementary School, seen here on Thursday, will be locked during school hours and a new security door will be installed.

The entryway at each school will include a door to the front office and a set of doors for students to enter and exit the school that will remain locked while school is in session.

Similar entrances were built at the new Northeast Elementary School and the renovated Hermosa Middle School and are included in the plans for the new Farmington High School.

Lasiewicz said bullet-resistant glass manufactured by School Guard Glass will be installed in each of the entryways. The bullet-resistant glass is also to be used in portions of the new Farmington High School.

Debbie Braff, principal at Apache Elementary School, said she likes the upgrades.

“We’ve actually had quite a few this year and we’re quite happy with them,” Braff said.

Door locks in the school were upgraded so they can be electronically-controlled and a key card system for access was installed.

Braff said staff can remotely-lock all the electronic doors at once from the front office in case of a lockdown.

Previously, staff would have to manually lock all the school doors in case of a lockdown situation, possibly putting them in danger.

A visitor management system was installed at each Farmington school at the beginning of the school year. Visitors use a computer to scan the barcode on their driver’s license and take their picture that is printed on a visitor’s pass..

“We expected some parents to balk at that but parents are very understanding,” Braff said about the visitor management system.

Work at Piedra Vista is projected to be more extensive than the other schools, Lasiewicz said.

The admissions office and the office for the school resource officer will be relocated to the front office area by the main entrance.

A new conference room will be built for teachers and staff to meet with parents in an area near the front entrance.

Relocating the offices will help guide all visitors to the school through the new secure entryway, Lasiewicz said.

Exterior doors on campus buildings will be locked during the school day and remotely unlocked during the school’s passing periods.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

Special education teacher Dawn Elmer sits with students waiting for their parents to pick them up on Thursday at Apache Elementary School. Secretary Gloria Shirley said the interior doors to the right will be locked during school hours and visitors will have to walk past staff members in the office, and be buzzed through an additional security door, to gain access to the building.