Valley schools upgrade security measures

The new school year is bringing a new look to several schools around the valley, physical changes that are hard to miss.

Taller fencing, shatter-resistant glass, are among the security measures that have been installed at these schools.

It's all in an effort to protect students and staff from active shooters and other violence.

All of the schools in the Kyrene District have been upgraded with the latest security technology. The schools now have front office modifications making it more secure for students and staff.

In 2005, the community passed a capital bond that gave the Kyrene School District funding to develop a plan for student safety and security.

"It really allowed us to begin looking seriously at security among our 25 schools," said Eric Nethercutt.

Nethercutt, the director of facilities, says in the days following the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy new security standards were set in place.

The upgrades include alarms, increased video surveillance, and building corridors so all classrooms that once opened to the outside now open into a corridor.

One of the newest features is a modified front office, something every school in the district now has.

"Visitors will walk in, they go to the front desk, they check in. They can not go into the school until they are buzzed in through a door. So that means staff will look at them, check them in, give them a badge and buzz them in," said Nethercutt.

He says the added security in the front offices creates an extra layer of protection. Protection from an active shooter situation along with domestic family issues.

"Phoenix Homeland Defense Bureau tells us when they get calls from school, they're there in about 4 minutes, and so this layer of security lets the school respond, it goes into lockdown and kids are safe, staff is safe, police are on the way," he said.

Paradise Valley School District is also taking steps to secure schools. The district has spent the last three summers making similar improvements, things like secured fencing around all school buildings and front entrances similar to those at Kyrene.

The cost for the security upgrades is about $100,000 per lobby.