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Security upgrades in works at Morris High

Improved door locks, video intercom system among the discussions

Morris Community High School District 101 will be taking bids to upgrade the school’s door locking system for better security.

Building and Grounds Director Stephen Lutz told the board the system would be similar to the one installed in the fieldhouse in recent years. At that time, the actual doors in the fieldhouse were replaced, but this project would just be for locks on the school’s current doors.

The system would allow for exterior doors to lock while kids are in class and unlock for passing periods.

The cost is estimated to be between $80,000 and $100,000, said Lutz. When the fieldhouse doors were done it was about $151,000, but that included the replacement of actual doors, not just a locking system. Doors would not be replaced on the school, just technical lock upgrades.

The approval to seek bids for the exterior door lock system was approved unanimously, with board member Dr. James Allen absent.

In another security-related matter, the board discussed working to obtain a video intercom system for the high school front office. The system would allow for the office secretaries to buzz in visitors after seeing them in the video surveillance.

With the recent media reports of school shootings in the country, the district has decided to move forward with this and other actions for the safety of students and staff.

“The goal in this is to keep and maintain a safe environment in a measured way,” said Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran.

Administration has directed teachers to keep classrooms locked while students are in class, and the district will continue to review its crisis plan annually, he said.

“Can the camera just see the person buzzing or around them too?” asked board member John Maddox.

Lutz said the camera will allow for some visibility around the visitor buzzing as well. There is also discussion of putting a camera in the entryway so visitors can be recorded when they enter the building.

In other business, Halloran reported to the board that at the joint board meeting of Morris High, Morris Elementary School District 54 and Saratoga School 60c boards Wednesday, Jan. 16, one agenda item to be discussed is sharing of transportation costs.

Currently all three schools share special education transportation, and the high school and District 54 share regular busing through Illinois Central School Bus.

“It appears there is an opportunity for significant cost savings if the three districts use Saratoga as the provider, as opposed to Illinois Central,” said Halloran.

Illinois Central was the recent low bid for the services, but Saratoga leases its own bus fleet.

Halloran said there could be an estimated $55,000 savings.

“We feel it could be greater once we fine-tune the route possibilities,” he said.

Additional buses would have to be leased and it would likely be a three to five-year arrangement, he said. The impact on the high school’s schedule to share the buses would be minimal. The school might have to start just a bit earlier and end a bit earlier.

“It’s not as much of a shift as it is for some other districts,” he said.

The joint school board meeting will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Saratoga School.

The graduation date for 2013 was also approved: May 24, 2013.

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