- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln Public Schools will spend more than $3 million to make sure 32 schools in the district have secured entrances.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1BLR9kv ) reports that they are the last of the district schools to have physical barriers put in place between the entrance and the rest of the school. But it may not be an easy task. Older buildings have entrances that are far from school offices, making it difficult to place security in an ideal location. Another obstacle for placing security is that many visitors use doors that are more convenient than the main entrance.

“Space is our hang-up everywhere,” said Scott Wieskamp, LPS director of operations. “Having a work area for our (secured entrance monitor) is our problem.”

The secured entrance at Elliott Elementary, for example, will be on the east side of the school, which is the less-used main door. Glass doors at the top of the stairs will stop visitors, who will check in with a monitor before being buzzed into the main part of the school.

The project is one of the security measures put in place after a man walked into an elementary school about a decade ago and sexually assaulted a boy in a bathroom. The district hired its first security director shortly after the incident.

The district has been securing entrances since 2006, and spends about $2.3 million a year on security. Costs include $1.2 million for security monitors and $815,000 for high school supervisors and resource officers.

School Board President Richard Meginnis said he hopes that having secured entrances at the school will reduce the need for monitors. He hopes that monitoring duties can be given to the office staff at some schools. According to the associate superintendent for human resources, Eric Weber, secure entrance monitors are paid with money from the district budget, not individual schools.

District officials are currently discussing how to handle future staffing decisions for the schools.

“One thing I know for sure is there’s a district commitment to provide security at those buildings so there’s fidelity across the district,” Weber said. “We won’t make buildings decide between security and adding another English teacher.”

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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