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December 14, 2013

NPS looks at safety

NORMAN — As the country remembers and mourns the loss of 20 students and six adults on today’s anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the focus of school safety in the Norman Public Schools’ 2014 bond issue is discussed by NPS administrators. Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano said not one particular incident spurred the district to focus on safety and security, but that over the past 10 years, due to incidents like Columbine and Sandy Hook, such concerns have risen to the top of national discussions.

One of six focus areas of the 2014 bond issue is to continue to upgrade safety and security efforts including additional safe rooms and completion of secure vestibules. In total, $17,382,016 is slated to focus on safety and security out of the $126 million five-year bond issue. The bond will pay for secure entry vestibules, classroom additions that include safe rooms and enclosed classrooms.

Dr. Roger Brown, NPS administrative services assistant superintendent, said Norman Public Schools has been working on enhanced security and safety since the 2006 bond, in which Truman Elementary’s gymnasium was made into a safe room. Siano said each bond builds upon one another and that each capital investment is progressive, and schools that are not expected to receive secure entry vestibules with the new bond, already have secure entries that were updated with previous bonds.

“We (the school district) determined that safety and security will always be a bond focus.” Siano said. “We don’t start something and not finish it.”

Secure entry vestibules create an entryway to schools that only allows visitors access to a schools’ classrooms, students and teachers after passing through a main office. Such entryways create a barrier to visitors and intruders that combine with safety procedures to create a safe learning environment in which faculty and students can feel confident. The following schools will receive secure entry vestibules if the bond passes: Norman High School, Alcott Middle School, Longfellow Middle School, Cleveland Elementary School, Eisenhower Elementary School, Jackson Elementary School, Kennedy Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School and Wilson Elementary School.

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