2018-07-05 / Front Page

Schools beef up security

$175K project OK’d in G-L
by Amy Hubbell
of the Enterprise staff

School’s out for summer.

But school administrators are working on school safety, with one district approving a major project.

The Glen Lake Board of Education voted unanimously last week to purchase an armed intruder alarm system for $174,936, that includes the purchase, plus a 15 percent contingency.

Project approval came in the shadow of public outrage over a school shooting in Florida that has forced schools across the nation to take a deeper look at security. Some 17 people were left dead in the Feb. 14 melee.

It is the only system of its kind in a Leelanau County School.

“It’s an alarm system that has pulls ‘similar to those used for fires,” Superintendent Sander Scott said. “When they are pulled law enforcement is notified along with everyone in the building.”

The system can also be triggered by the flash of a gun going off.

Once activated, school administrators and teachers will be able to use a secured computer portal to report their status.

The portal can also be used by law enforcement to determine where and how to best respond.

Increased security has been the topic of conversation among Leelanau school district superintendents and Sheriff Mike Borkovich.

“It’s unfortunate that schools have to spend time and resources to update security,” Suttons Bay Superintendent Mike Carmean said. “But that’s the world we live in.”

Each county school has taken steps to better identify who is coming into their facilities and what they are doing.

At Glen Lake, all visitors must enter the school complex through the superintendent’s lobby. There, a staff member takes the person’s driver’s license and scans it.

“We can determine if they have a criminal history or if they’re convicted sex offenders,” superintendent Sander Scott said. “We haven’t had any complaints about it.”

After the screening, the staff members generate a colored identification for the visitor, which includes a photo ID.

“It lets everyone know why you’re here,” Scott said.

Cost of this system was $2,500.

Leland Public School has also implemented a single-point of entry system. After classes begin in Leland, all the doors are located.

The school has also added security cameras. It’s recently-approved bond proposal includes plans to move the main office to the front of the building to improve security.

Superintendent Jason Stowe could not be reached for comment.

Northport Public School also has single-point entry and cameras inside and out.

Security efforts aside, Northport Superintendent Neil Wetherbee, has other concerns.

“Physical threats can be catastrophic and immediately in the news, but I worry about the long term emotional damage our children face with prolonged, heightened fears,” he said. “School safety is a regular conversation at all levels of Northport Public School, and we will continue to push ourselves to be the best in everything we do -- including school safety.”

For the past several years, all county schools have installed “The Boot,” a device intended to keep would-be attackers out of classrooms.

The square-shaped steel device hangs from each classroom door and can be dropped into place — sliding into two pre-drilled holes in the floor on the inside.

Sheriff Borkovich was a huge proponent of The Boot and helped to secure grants to have them installed across the county.

Now Borkovich hopes secure grants to install the placard system to help guide first responders.

“It’s similar to the system used at Munson Hospital,” the Sheriff said.

Meanwhile, monitors are being install at Suttons Bay’s main office areas this summer so that staff can view those who visit.

School officials are also working to install new technology for visitor sign check-in.

Suttons Bay is the only county school to have had an intruder apprehended in the past year.

A man was arrested last fall after entering the school and then produced a box cutter, threatening to use it as a weapon.

“The situation that happened at Suttons Bay High School last fall reminds us that — yes, it can happen here,” Carmean said. “I applaud all school and Sheriff’s staff who diffused the situation.

“Student safety is of utmost importance for county schools.”

Return to top