In Wisconsin, School Finds Way to Up Security with Just $75K

The Weston School District is enacting a detailed security plan in the wake of the Sept. 29 school shooting that resulted in the death of Principal John Klang.

With $75,000 in state and federal grants, the district is hoping to strike a balance between safety and learning within the schools, said Superintendent Terry Milfred.

"Schools aren't fortresses," Milfred said. "We have to have an environment conducive to education."

The district plans to install a video-intercom, door-control system at two main entrances, a series of locks, alarms, reinforced windows and a radio system for personnel, Milfred said.

A $25,000 state grant, which state Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster announced Thursday, will be used to stem the estimated $50,000 cost of the new technology.

The video-intercom system, set up in the entrance vestibules of the high school and elementary/middle school, will be activated once school is in session at 8 a.m., allowing the secretary to see and speak with visitors before buzzing them in.

The district also plans to purchase portable radios, pending approval from the School Board, which experts say can prevent the spread of violence if another tragedy were to occur, Milfred said.

"If you have good communication, you can mitigate damage," Milfred said. "Which of course, John (Klang) did at the expense of his life. Had he not been able to, it becomes more important to communicate with each other."

The district was also awarded a $50,000 federal grant to address the recovery process and future safety of the school, but the funds cannot be used for equipment. That money was used to hire substitute teachers, experts, and an armed officer to patrol the school.

Once the equipment is in place, the schools will begin a second phase of security focused on psychological-based programs and services.

Milfred said he hired former Sauk Prairie School Superintendent Tom Andres to research how staff can encourage students to "break the code of silence" and help students feel they belong.

"Students are expressing feelings of connection with staff, and comfort with staff," Milfred said. "This kind of tragedy can tear you apart, or it can bring you closer together. It seems like it's bringing us closer together."