The Cleveland Board of Education determined the changes were needed in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., six months ago.
Paul Ramsey, energy education specialist, said the board is taking school safety very seriously.
“As it is right now, you can enter the front of the building at Blythe-Bower and basically bypass the office and go anywhere you want,” Ramsey said. “As a matter of fact, you could come in and take a right and the office would probably never realize you were inside.”
Blythe-Bower’s entrance currently allows visitors to go either left, to the office, or right, to a hallway leading farther into the school. Visitors will only have one entrance, which will lead them to a secure lobby. Currently, the lobby is an open area in front of the office. A wall with a set of double doors with buzzer-controlled admittance will be constructed to ensure limited access.
Visitors will have to go through the office to gain entrance to the school.
According to Ramsey, an additional hallway is being added to ensure traffic flow continues the same as before. The new hallway was originally built into the school, but was later used to widen a classroom. He said the arches are still in place and secure enough to use for the hallway.
In addition to the buzzer doors, the front office will have the capability to automatically lock down the doors, if necessary.
The same feature will be available at E.L. Ross Elementary following the school’s front office and entrance reconstruction. Lisa Earby, E.L. Ross principal, said everything is going great so far.
“It is really coordinated,” Earby said. “I think Cherokee Construction really has it under control. Everything is going really smoothly. Everyone has shown up when they were supposed to.”
E.L. Ross’ reconstruction will move the main office to the technoplaza at the end of the school’s cafeteria.
The former front office will be split in half with the school resource officer in the section facing the school’s entrance. The other half of the room will be an office for a currently undecided position. Earby’s former office will be used by the school counselor. Another section of the office will be split between the school psychologist and nurse.
Earby said she thinks students will be excited to see the SRO’s new office.
“I think they will love having the SRO being the first person they see when they come in,” Earby said. “They have a good relationship with our SRO, Kevin Felton.”
The technoplaza has been gutted and walls are going up to set apart the front office, Earby’s office and a conference room.
Prior to reconstruction, two sets of double doors led into the school. Visitors will still enter through the school’s regular entrance, but they will now be forced to go through the main entrance to gain access to the school. The second set of double doors will remain locked and buzzer-controlled. A new set of doors will be built into the side of the former technoplaza to allow visitors entrance to the office.
Earby said the extra security is her favorite part of the reconstruction.
“The thing what we are most excited about is the first set of double doors will be moved back,” Earby said. “Anybody coming into the building has to be channeled through the main office.”
According to Ramsey, Yates Primary will be the only school without a secured lobby following this summer’s reconstructions.
Yates’ construction makes it difficult to build a secured lobby. Additional security features are being added to the school to ensure optimal safety. Ramsey said the school will have its own SRO, who will be in the front office. Cameras and keyless entry will be added to the primary school.
Keyless entry will also be added to E.L. Ross and Blythe-Bower during their reconstructions. The same features are currently offered at the Teen Learning Center and Cleveland High School.
Cherokee Construction is in charge of work being completed at E.L. Ross, Yates and Blythe-Bower. Work is set to be complete by Aug. 1.