Wisconsin Town's Schools Put Security Updates on Hold

Feb. 8--Janesville public school officials are holding off on new measures to toughen security at school buildings.

Last fall's shootings at schools across the country prompted consideration of ideas to keep school doors more secure.

Now, schools keep all but their main entrances locked. Visitors are required to report to the office or a table, where they sign in and get a visitor sticker. However, tables are sometimes not staffed, and not all offices allow workers to monitor people entering the school.

Suggestions included a system that would keep the front doors locked and allow school office workers to visually monitor the doors and communicate with visitors. The doors could then be unlocked remotely.

Some schools already have video cameras pointed at the front doors.

Steve Johnson, director of human and administrative services, said in October that the district wanted to move as rapidly as possible on the issue.

Johnson said Monday he hopes to have measures in place by next fall, but he's not sure how realistic that is.

The hang-up is a proposal to hire a full-time district safety/security officer, Johnson said.

Johnson said the officer would have expertise in security systems and could help in the selection of the technology.

"We wouldn't want to start out in one direction and be advised to take a different one," Johnson said. "In the meantime, we are gathering information."

Some school board members have questioned the creation of a new position at a time they are being asked to cut teachers and other positions to balance next year's budget.

The district's athletics director now doubles as the security and safety officer.

Johnson said the board probably will need a couple more meetings before it decides whether to create the new position. If the board says yes, the money wouldn't be available for the new position until July 1.

However, the person might be selected earlier and could possibly work as a consultant to advise the district on security measures before July 1, Johnson said.

If the board rejects the new position, the district probably would find a consultant to help with the door-security project, Johnson said.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Janesville Gazette, Wis. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.