P-H-M adding security measures following Sandy Hook

OSCEOLA-- The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation is making changes to security at all of its elementary schools following the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

The district is taking advantage of summer break to do the work so that school safety is improved by the time kids return in the fall.   

The upgrades come after the district did a security audit.

Safety is the district's highest priority, and after the audit, they saw a need for improvements to the already existing security measures.

Crews are laying the groundwork for a more secure school at Moran Elementary in Osceola.    

Many classrooms in the district will go from having no doors to more secure ones that teachers can lock.

The doors will have windows, but someone on the other side will not be able to reach through to unlock them.

"We're also going to be adding some security measures that lead to the corridor, so we'll have additional doors that can be locked at the corridor," said PHM Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker.  

Additional intercom systems and panic buttons will be installed.

Staff on the inside will be able to lockdown certain parts of the school from a central location in the event of an emergency.

Another security upgrade that's going to be happening at these schools: The windows are going to be covered with 3M film which makes it harder for somebody from the outside to break through the glass and get in.

"If they wanted to exit there, we have windows that we can just open and exit," Thacker said.     

More security cameras will be strategically placed to help keep an eye on all visitors making the entrance and keep the entire campus more secure.

"I think it's a great decision. So, as a mother, I'm very worried about my kids safety after what happened to the Sandy Hook Elementary School kids," said Ange Ovide.

Ovide is originally from Haiti but now has two kids attending PHM schools.      

Her children saw news coverage of the incident in Connecticut, and she hopes the local school security changes will give her and her kids peace of mind.

Ovide adds, "One of my daughters even told me, 'Mommy, what happens if we are next in line.' So, you know, I was very scared and concerned about that."

The superintendent says the goal is to have all the work complete by mid-August before the kids return to school.    

There is summer school, but the district is working with construction crews to make sure the learning environment is not impacted.

The price tag for these security improvements is around $2 million.