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Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Security upgrade will cost $50,000

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - New security procedures have been put in place at New Bremen schools following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Board members Tuesday night discussed the new measures along with future improvements that could tally more than $50,000.
Access to both the elementary/middle school and high school is more limited. Students who walk, ride bicycles or are dropped off now must enter through the main elementary office doors and immediately proceed to the cafeteria until the first bell rings. Students are not allowed to mill around outside before class.
Once buses discharge students, all doors except the front entrance are locked. Plans call for the installation of a buzzer and video surveillance at the main doors at a cost of nearly $2,500. Someone coming to the building during class time would need to activate the buzzer/two-way intercom and be admitted by office personnel.
Board member Scott Bertke questioned whether the surveillance equipment would have recording capabilities. Superintendent Howard Overman said he would check with SecurCom.
Overman noted that limiting building access is important, especially since the elementary/middle school has 22 exterior doors. The newer high school building has 15.
The high school already requires visitors to use the main door for admittance; however, the doors are not equipped with buzzers.
The board was asked to consider adding buzzers at a cost of $10,000 and moving the high school office from its current location off the commons area to the 900-square-foot community room just inside the front doors.
The estimated $45,000 office upgrade, including the installation of observation windows, would give office personnel a clear view of who is approaching the building and seeking entry via the new buzzer.
John Freytag of Freytag and Associates of Sidney will review the plan during a visit next week.
Overman said additional safety issues involve unlocking high school windows to allow for quicker escape if needed. Additionally, all exterior doors in both buildings will be numbered with signs for identification purposes with information going to police, sheriff's deputies, emergency medical personnel, firefighters and other first responders.
Administrators have identified "safety spots" for students and staff in the event the buildings are evacuated due to an intruder.
"The school shooting in Connecticut has really affected our teachers," elementary principal Diane Kremer said. "We cannot be too cautious when taking preventative measures for the safety of our students and staff."
Board president Kami Fox agreed, pointing out security is something she and fellow members have discussed repeatedly.
"Times have changed over the last decade," she said.
The board also:
• learned the school district will receive $17,500 in casino revenue with the amount earmarked for the general fund. Treasurer Deb Meyer had expected the amount to be closer to $20,000 but estimates more dollars when all of the state's casinos are open.
• received an update on heating and leakage problems at the elementary/middle school. Repairs have been made.
• reviewed bids from Dickman Supply and Buschur Electric for replacing mercury vapor lights in the gymnasium with more efficient florescent lights at a total cost of $18,930. The project would qualify for a $2,000 rebate from the Energy Smart program to reduce the cost further.
Overman indicated operation costs for the lights would go from $4,752 to $2,293 per year, meaning the district could recoup the expenditure in 6.8 years.
The work likely would be done in the summer when the gym is not in use.
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - Eight jurors on Wednesday heard testimony in Mercer County Common Pleas Court from a rural Celina couple who believes the state owes them $2.4 million for their flood-damaged farmland. [More]
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