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Officials discuss school security during tour of Berkeley County schools

June 03, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • West Virginia School Building Authority Executive Director Mark A. Manchin (left) and School Building Authority board member Robert Dunlevy (right) tour the new Spring Mills High School campus Monday with Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon after the SBA boards meeting at Spring Mills Primary School.
Photo by Mattew Umstead

SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — The West Virginia School Building Authority voted Monday that shatter-proof glass and exterior door alarms should be incorporated into new school construction projects to improve school safety.

“We really learned a lot from the Newtown (school shooting),” Executive Director Mark Manchin told members of the school building authority board, which voted unanimously to revise the agency’s quality and performance manual at its meeting in Spring Mills Primary school.

The changes, which were made effective immediately, require administrative offices to be built adjacent to main entry vestibules. The offices will have direct sight lines to the main building entrance and parking areas, if not also have view of access roads.

Separate visitor entrance and waiting areas and a bank teller-like transaction window from the waiting area to the main office also must be incorporated in future school designs.

Alarms are to be installed on most all exterior doors to discourage any staff or students from propping doors open with wedges, rocks or other items.

“We can not have that,” Manchin said.

The sound of the door alarm “will be an incessant beep,” Manchin said.

“It will drive you nuts,” he said. 

Manchin said they looked at possibly requiring bullet-proof glass, but found it too expensive. By using shatter proof glass, Manchin said it will still slow down the ability to get into the building. The cafeteria and other common areas are to be separated from the main entrance and administrative office by mechanically-operated access doors that will remain open during normal school functions.

The doors will have the capability to be closed and mechanically locked from the office area and academic spaces also will be separated from common building spaces with similar doors, Manchin said.

Other design requirements include installation of video monitoring software at all administrative office staff computer work stations to allow staff to monitor the facility. The security system also is to provide monitoring when exterior doors are open or closed and an alert is to be sent to the administrative office if a door is left open.

The security system installed also must be able to notify emergency responders immediately upon activation in case of a crisis situation.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon, who escorted Manchin and school building authority board members on a tour of school district facilities Monday, said it isn’t too late to incorporate the latest changes in school security design for the Gerrardstown, W.Va., area middle school that is under construction.

“We have not installed security systems yet,” Arvon said.

Arvon said he also intends to look at what can be incorporated in the renovation project at Martinsburg North Middle School, which is slated to get under way.

Like the county’s other relatively new school buildings in Berkeley County, Spring Mills High School was designed to have a visitor entrance/waiting area adjoining administrative offices as outlined in the security design revisions adopted Monday, according to Arvon.

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Photo by Matthew Umstead
West Virginia School Building Authority Executive Director Mark A. Manchin (left) and School Building Authority board member Robert Dunlevy (right) tour the new Spring Mills High School campus Monday with Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon after the SBA board’s meeting at Spring Mills Primary School.

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