Even before the December school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the Shawnee Mission School District had been planning to upgrade security of the entrances at its schools. But in the wake of the tragedy, a note of urgency has been added to some of those plans.
A total of 21 Shawnee Mission elementary schools do not have what the district considers a secure entry. Under the district’s definition, a secure entry is one that channels visitors through the office during school hours rather than allowing people to enter the main building directly. SM East has a secure entry as do Indian Hills and Hocker Grove Middle Schools. None of the other four high schools or three middle schools has a secure entry. Neither Horizons nor Broadmoor Technical Center have secure entries.
Several local elementaries are among those with entries slated for security enhancements: Brookwood, Corinth, Briarwood, Prairie, Tomahawk, Trailwood, Sante Fe Trail, Diemer and Westwood View.
Last week the school board put security renovations at Lenexa’s Rising Star Elementary on the fast track because it not only lacks a secure entry, but also the classrooms do not have doors because of a pod configuration. That design feature prevents classrooms from being be locked down. The board approved architect and engineering services to secure the entry and add 28 doors to classrooms over the summer.
The remaining middle schools are scheduled for the secure entries during their remodeling projects over the next two summers.
The superintendent’s committee that reviewed capital improvement plans early last year included secure entries at the elementary schools as a priority item. Rising Star is currently the only elementary with a plan and timeline