Rockford School District takes steps to improve building security

District leaders have pledged to install a security vestibule to each school.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:41 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As the number of attacks on U.S schools rises, school leaders try to find every way possible to protect students. While they can’t pass laws or write bills to make these places safer, they say they can change locally, by freeing up more money for security.

“We’re investing in terms of a process whereby our staff can be able to check visitors as they’re coming in,” said director of design and construction, Scott Jensen.

Jensen says the plan is to install 13 vestibules in the next year, with a pledge to install one in every school in the next couple of years.

“Within the two years, we’ll be investing approximately $7.4 million in construction. And next year we’ll be doing 13 vestibules and investing about $1.5 million in construction,” he said.

Beyer Early Education Center already had one installed. Visitors push a buzzer to get through the first door, which takes them into the vestibule, or holding room. From there, the guest could be buzzed into the main office, where staff will assess the reason for the visit and decide is the person gains entry to the school.

“Before the install of the secure vestibule parents had to come in throughout the building, and our office was in the middle of the building. So they had the ability to walk throughout the building,” said Beyer’s principal, Laura Blackwell.

Balckwell says the secure vestibule puts the minds of both teachers and parents at ease.

“It’s definitely reduced the amount of anxiety we have with just allowing parents or adults to walk throughout the building,” she said.

Bids for five district schools―Flinn, Guilford, Nashold, Lincoln and Summerdale―are due on Feb. 14. Bidding is complete for eight more schools including RESA, Eisenhower and Lewis Lemon.